Drowning victim's body recovered Tuesday from Keuka

GateHouse News Service

Four days of waiting ended Tuesday afternoon for a grieving Corning family when the body of Richard V. O’Dell was found in Keuka Lake.

O’Dell’s body was found deep underwater by a state-police submerged robot about one-half mile north of the Switzerland Inn restaurant, Steuben County Undersheriff Ray Dell said.

The body was found in about the same area where O’Dell, 45, of Morrcrest Drive, fell out of the back of a boat leaving the restaurant shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, July 25.

“The robot found several items that needed to be checked out,” Dell said standing in a command center just off state Route 54 along the lake. “One turned out to be a large tree. But when the robot was turned around from the tree, the body was found, 105 feet underwater.”

Divers brought the body to the surface and onto a private dock at about 1:15 p.m. where it was put into a town of Wayne Ambulance, Dell said.

Family members, who had been keeping a vigil near the search area since Saturday, identified the body.

“There were no marks found on the body,” Dell said.

O’Dell was pronounced dead by Steuben County Coroner Robert Cole and sent to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy.

O’Dell is survived by his wife and two children.

O’Dell was one of three people in the boat and fell out when it failed to plane while accelerating. The driver of the boat, who has not been identified, circled around while a passenger dove in the water to help O’Dell.

O’Dell sunk below the surface of the water and the occupants of the boat were unable to locate him. There were no indications from witnesses he struck his head or was injured in any way when entering the water, Dell said.

O’Dell and the other two men on the board where each employees of J.F. and J.P Wenzel Contractors. 

“They worked together and were very good friends,” Dell said.

Dell would not say whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

Steuben County Assistant District Attorney Brooks Baker said Tuesday that the driver of the boat volunteered to take a toxicology test Saturday night hours after the incident.

“This is a horrible and tragic accident,” Baker said. “The driver did take an alcohol test and the results should be back in about three weeks. We will review the tests and make a decision on any possible charges at that point.”

Baker said if the driver fails the alcohol test, charges ranging from boating while intoxicated to vehicular homicide could be levied.

Dell said the four-day search was concentrated on a three-quarter mile area on the east branch of Keuka Lake between eight and nine miles north of Hammondsport.

“About 50 searchers and staff were on hand the past three days trying to locate the body,” said Steuben County Chief Deputy Noel Terwilliger. “I would like to thank employees from the Hammondsport, Wayne and Pulteney fire departments, the Yates Sheriff’s Department and the state police for assisting with the search.”