Campers Mourn After Fellow Camper Drowns in Fishing Creek

ORANGE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A camping community in Columbia County is left in shock after the drowning death of a fellow camper.

The county coroner says John Williams, 55, of Mahanoy City, died after falling into Fishing Creek early Wednesday morning.

The Columbia County Coroner says Williams had been camping at the Fishing Creek Campground near Bloomsburg when he fell into the water and drowned around 1 a.m.

Williams was a regular seasonal camper here and his fellow campers are reeling from his sudden loss.

“I feel so sad for the family,” said Sherian Angeli from Bloomsburg. “I mean, it's very tragic. He was well-liked as far as I know. He had a lot of friends that would go down there and sit with him.”

According to the coroner, Williams was visiting other campers at their campsite when he stepped off from a patio, lost his footing and fell down a roughly 10 to 15-foot embankment and into Fishing Creek.

Despite attempts to save Williams by other campers and crews from several fire companies, his body was found about a quarter-mile from where he went in.

“It is dangerous on this ledge here. You go down here and the rocks are slippery,” said Steve Cooke from Orange Township. “A lot of people look out there and kids fall down, so I put rope up there and a set of steps, just to keep people from falling, the safety side of things.”

Right now, the coroner is waiting on an autopsy to see if Williams suffered any injuries in his fall that may have contributed to his drowning.

“All it takes is one little slip and you hit your head and then you're unconscious or just can't fully function what you're doing,” said Cooke.

Orangeville police are also investigating the drowning, but the chief says it appears to be a tragic accident.

“It's steep and it don't take much to go down that bank, and it's slippery,” said Phil Shellhammer from Orange Township.

“It's a scary thing. You get anywhere near the edge,” said Angeli. “The floods have really torn away at the banks basically.”

According to the coroner, the autopsy for John Williams is scheduled to take place Thursday.

1 Comment

  • Harold Smith

    “Right now, the coroner is waiting on an autopsy to see if Williams suffered any injuries in his fall that may have contributed to his drowning.”

    Why? What difference does it make to the people of Columbia county? The cause of death is drowning and the manner of death is accidental; the case is therefore closed. Whether or not the victim suffered any injuries in the fall is completely irrelevant to the public interest. This autopsy is pointless and unnecessary; it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.

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