Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Identifies Man Who Drowned in Central NY Lake
Authorities have released the identity of the man who drowned Sunday at Oneida Lake.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said the victim has been identified as 27-year-old Gerald A. Capunay, a native of Woodhaven, NY.
In a public Facebook post, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office wrote,
According to Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, on Sunday, July 30, 2023, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol on Oneida Lake received a call of a person who had fallen from their jet ski and was in distress in the water.
The caller indicated that they were on another boat and had been flagged down by the man’s friend who was on another jet ski in the area of Lewis Point.
The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol responded to the call, as did members of the Sylvan Beach Fire Department’s water rescue.
Authorities said Capunay was unconscious by the time rescuers located him and brought him to shore. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
While his death does not appear suspicious to authorities, the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the cause.
The tragedy comes just two weeks after NY health officials issued a warning about an increase of drowning-related deaths in the state.
Drownings have reached their highest level in NY
According to the most recent federal data, 242 people drowned in New York in 2020. That is the highest number of drowning deaths ever reported, according to Times Union.
It is unknown why the state is experiencing an unprecedented surge in fatalities, especially after years of decline.
To combat this unprecedented rise in drowning deaths, NY health officials curated a list of safe swimming habits everyone should follow.
How to prevent drowning
Topping the list of safety habits is about using the buddy system.
• Always swim with others, never enter the water alone. Keep an eye on each other.
Those rules are especially important regarding those with medical conditions like a seizure disorder or heart problem.
Health officials also encourage those who don't know how to swim, or aren't confident swimmers, to avoid entering waters that are over chest deep. It is also strongly encouraged to wear proper flotation devices.
The list also includes some common-sense additions, such as never diving in waters lesser than 8-feet deep due to the increased risk of neck injuries, never swimming in inclement weather and not swimming under the influence of drugs or alcohol because it could impair judgement.
Health officials also raised the importance of education, from learning how to properly swim to how to properly identify the signs of drowning. Of course, it's also recommended everyone learns how to provide CPR.
Drowning can occur anywhere there is water; from lakes and pools to bathtubs and buckets.
Drowning happens quickly and quietly. People often think that if someone is not calling for help that they are not drowning. Remember that when someone is drowning, they are trying to breathe, not speak. It may appear that the person is splashing or waving, but this may be an involuntary response to try to stay afloat. Progression from struggling to drowning can happen in as few as 20 seconds. Any delay in rescue can be fatal.
Health officials warned that children and teens are most at risk of drowning.
In children, the leading cause of drowning deaths is a lack of adult supervision - as well as children not wearing proper flotation devices while boating or swimming.
As for teen-related drowning fatalities, health officials say these deaths are more likely to "occur in natural bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and the ocean."
Learn more about how to prevent you and your family from experiencing an avoidable tragedy HERE.