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Two injured in diving accidents Saturday near Kinzua Dam

Photo submitted to Times Observer Visitors to Allegheny Reservoir jump off of Refrigerator Rock. The water at the time the photo was taken was significantly deeper than it was when two jumpers were injured on Saturday.

It was a beautiful day to be on and in the water.

The water just below the surface of the Allegheny Reservoir was about 70 degrees.

But, the surface was lower than usual and it wasn’t deep enough for some activities.

Two people were seriously injured Saturday afternoon in separate incidents at the same popular jumping rock on the Allegheny Reservoir.

According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Resource Manager Doug Helman, the first injury happened at about 3 p.m. at Refrigerator Rock, about one-quarter mile upstream from Kinzua Dam along the north shore of the reservoir.

“We had an individual jump off Refrigerator Rock,” Helman said. “The individual hit the water and water was too shallow.”

She ended up with a compound fracture — bone sticking out through the skin — of her lower leg.

Glade Township Volunteer Fire Department responded with its boats and brought the woman to Kinzua Wolf Run Marina. A landing zone was established and she was then flown by emergency helicopter for treatment.

“As they were getting the boat back in the water, another person did the same exact thing,” Helman said. “He jumped off the rock — compound fracture of his lower leg.”

Glade rescued that jumper, took him to the Marina, and he, too, was flown out by emergency helicopter.

The Corps of Engineers participated in the rescue in a support role, Helman said.

Technically, the rock is on Allegheny National Forest land. The water is under the scope of the Corps of Engineers.

Jumping off of rocks is not against the rules.

“Our regulations state that you’re allowed to jump off natural features,” Helman said.

Regulations prohibit jumping off of bridges and other man-made structures.

While jumping off of Refrigerator Rock into the reservoir is not illegal, it should be done with caution.

“It is a water storage reservoir and the water level does rise and fall throughout the year,” Helman said. “We’ve been dry. Right now we’re 2.5 feet down from normal summer pool — a lot shallower than normal.”

“It is critical for recreationists to know the conditions before participating in these activities,” Allegheny National Forest Bradford District Ranger Rich Hatfield said. “The level of the reservoir can fluctuate and the nature of underwater hazards can change at any time.”

Those recreating on the reservoir and in the tailwaters below the dam are asked to wear life preservers.

“Make sure you wear your life jacket,” Helman said.

Those in canoes, kayaks, and other craft under 16 feet in length, and all youth who are on the reservoir must wear personal flotation devices.

“If you’re in a boat over 16 feet and adult, you don’t have to wear a life jacket. You have to have one,” Helman said.

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