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Officials urge safety after multiple Vermont water deaths

By Staff | Jun 26, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Three apparent drownings in two separate incidents on Lake Champlain in two days is highlighting the need for swimming and boating safety during the hot months of summer, a top state official said.

The Wednesday comments by Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling came hours before an apparent drowning in the town of Stockbridge that would be the fourth Vermont water death in two days.

“So it’s an opportunity, an unfortunate opportunity, to reiterate safety guidance around swimming and boating as we encourage folks to get outside,” Schirling said during Wednesday’s media briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most recent incident came Wednesday night in Stockbridge when the victim, whose name and gender were not immediately released, was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.

Police did not describe the circumstances that led to the death, or in which body of water the incident occurred. The case is being investigated by detectives from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

In the first case that began just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, six people were aboard a small powerboat in Lake Champlain off Red Rocks Park in South Burlington when two juveniles jumped into the water to swim. One had trouble swimming due to increased wind and waves. The other juvenile made it safely back to the boat.

Todd Anderson, 51, of South Burlington, jumped from the boat with a life jacket to keep the juvenile afloat. He disappeared while swimming back to the boat. David King, 33, also of South Burlington, dove into the water in an attempt to save Anderson. The Coast Guard rescued King, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Anderson remains missing and is presumed dead, police say.

An adult female helped the child in the water reach shore with the help of the life jacket.

The boat, then occupied only by two juveniles, drifted away until the arrival of the South Burlington Fire Department.

South Burlington police say weather, failure to use personal flotation devices and boating inexperience contributed to the event.

Also, Tuesday, a New York man, identified as Dennis Rabideau, 52, of Mooers Forks, disappeared about 6:15 p.m. after jumping into the lake from a boat off Alburgh. He remains missing and is presumed dead.

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