Police search for man presumed drowned

A local man was swept away by high waters while he was swimming with his family Saturday afternoon and is believe to have drowned.

According to police, Richard Kelley, 39, of Whitehall, jumped off a rock into the water off of Upper Turnpike Road and never resurfaced.

New York State Police said Tuesday they believe Kelley is dead.

Local emergency response crews, along with the NYSP scuba team, NYSP aviation unit, and members of the Department of Environmental Conservation searched the area Saturday but were unable to find Kelley.

The search resumed Sunday and continued for several hours Monday but netted no results.

New York State Police Senior Investigator Tom Aiken said police investigated a “quasi-sighting” Monday afternoon but determined it was not Kelley.

“We’re checking out all leads,” Aiken said.

Search parties have used a variety of equipment during the search, including underwater cameras and hooks that are used to probe the river bed, but high water from recent storms was making the search more difficult.

“We need the rain to stop,” Aiken said.

The search is expected to continue as weather and water conditions permit.

Aiken said police have narrowed the area where they believe Kelley is located but can’t recover the body until water levels drop.

According to the USGS stream gauges, the Mettowee River in Middle Granville was flowing at 550 feet per second on Saturday when Kelley went in the water. The median flow is just over 100 feet per second.

The area of the river where Kelley disappeared is characterized by a number of rock outcroppings and swift current. Despite those perils the area is a popular swimming hole. Several years ago a man was injured just downstream when he struck a rocky bank while swinging on a rope suspended above the water.

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