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Man Drowned After Kayak Overturned at Lackawanna State Park

BENTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A man died after he was kayaking at Lackawanna State Park Saturday afternoon and the kayak overturned.

David Nicoteri's friends and former classmates say he was an experienced kayaker and swimmer, and they are saddened and shocked by his death.

A day spent paddling across Lackawanna Lake turned deadly when crews were called for a possible drowning.

"Yesterday a little bit after noon, we got a call for a turned over boat near the boat rental," said park ranger James Wassell.

Rangers found Nicoteri's kayak overturned without him in it. Those same rangers say Nicoteri was found in the lake, given CPR, and taken to the hospital.

Despite those efforts to save his life, the coroner says Nicoteri died several hours later at the hospital. His cause of death was drowning and was ruled accidental.

"We're trying to figure out exactly how he ended up in the water. That's still under investigation. We don't know exactly what happened leading up to him in the water. The big thing is he didn't have his life vest on, and I don't know if that would have saved his life because I don't know exactly the circumstances, but it certainly would have helped," Wassell added.

Wassell believes if Nicoteri wore a life jacket it could have helped to find him faster which could have given first responders enough time to save his life.

Wassell tells Newswatch 16 that kayaking on Lackawanna Lake can be dangerous even in good weather conditions.

Friends tell Newswatch 16 Nicoteri was an experienced kayaker and swimmer and are surprised he may have drowned in what appears to have been calm waters.

"I'm picturing the whole scenery up there, like what could have happened? No clue, but at least he's in heaven with Jesus and God now," said his friend John Bovenkamp.

Bovenkamp worked with Nicoteri on a construction job and says the 24 year old from Greenfield Township was hardworking and uplifting to be around.

"Everybody liked him up there. They loved him smiling all the time no matter what happened. We all get yelled at by the boss. We're still just smiling having a good time."

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