HESSTON - The deaths of three men who apparently drowned Sunday at Raystown Lake may have been avoidable.
None of the men were wearing life jackets, Supervisory Park Ranger Jude Harrington of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday.
"The lesson to be learned from this is to wear a life jacket. That would have made a huge difference. It appeared that the one guy was trying to help the other; if he had a life jacket on that would have been more beneficial. You have to be ready for the unexpected," Harrington said.
Two Franklin County men - Jerry Hugo Broman, 57, and Larry Elwood Newman, 71, both of Chambersburg - apparently drowned in the area of the Aitch boat launch in Penn Township after they decided to get out of their boat and into the water, state police at Huntingdon said.
In a separate incident near Snyder's Run boat launch in Juniata Township, a Ukrainian man lost his life after trying to swim between two points on the lake, police said.
Igor Khodavsky, 71, turned around to swim back half way and went under. He was pulled from the water by family members and taken to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon, where he was pronounced dead.
Harrington called it a "sad day."
"It is very disturbing to the Corps [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers]. We never had three drownings in one day. We had three fatalities but not three drownings," Harrington said.
Harrington said the three victims were not among the high risk group - males 18 to 30 years old and alcohol-related - to which water safety messages are targeted.
"All three were elderly gentlemen. They were swimming, they struggled and went down. The individuals appeared to be physically fit," Harrington said.
Autopsies on the victims were scheduled for Monday.
"All apparently were drowning victims but we are waiting for the autopsies before they are declared drownings," Harrington said.
Prior to Sunday, the most recent drowning at the lake occurred July 9, 2011, when the body of Aaron Riley, 21, of Okemos, Mich., a Michigan State University graduate student, was found in about 12 feet of water about 50 to 60 feet from the shoreline. Riley had been visiting the Juniata College Field Station with a group of students.