Elmira/Corning Regional Airport
Corning Mother Dies After Boating Accident
Written By: Tanja Rekhi
ELIMIRA (WENY) -- Mother's day will never be the same for the Bailey family after a weekend tragedy.
Authorities say 58-year-old Donna Bailey of Corning drowned after her kayak capsized, pinning her to a tree in the Chemung River in Big Flats.
Donna Bailey and her 32-year-old daughter, whose name police are not releasing, started off in the Chemung River by Botcher's Landing. They traveled east toward Minier's Fields.
"There was a large branch sticking out of the water as well as an overturned tree that was right there," said Chemung County Undersheriff William Schrom. "So, we believe what happened was that they struck the branch, which caused them to tip over in their kayak and it forced them into that downed tree."
The two women were pinned against the uprooted tree. The daughter was able to swim away and tried to help her mom. She wasn't able to. She made her way through some fields on Route 352 to a motorcyclist who called 911.
Seven fire agencies launched eight boats to search for Bailey
"The officers from the scene were able to take some pictures of the river itself. And the daughter who was transported to Arnot-Ogden was shown pictures," said Undersheriff Schrom. "She was able to identify the exact location where they had gone in."
The Undersheriff says search crews found Bailey within about 40 minutes of talking to her daughter, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead on scene.
Jim Piffer, Executive Director of the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed says a number of things could have played a role. He says River is still really cold and neither women were wearing a life vest. The law only requires people over the age of 12 to wear a life vest from November 1st to May 1st. Those under the age of 12 always have to wear it.
"Wear a life preserver, all the time! Don't put it in the bottom of the boat and say 'I'm gonna put it on when I get in trouble' that doesn't happen," said Pfiffer. "Know the river and if you don't know it have some one scout it ahead to see if there are any obstructions."
Jim Piffer stresses safety. His office is hosting paddle safety classes on May 24 and June 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Chemung County Sheriffs office will be hosting a free boater safety class from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. at the Southport Fire Department on Saturday May 17.