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Hudson River drowning
Derek Pruitt - The Hudson River flows over the Thompson Island Dam, which straddles the Northumberland and Fort Edward town lines, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. Jeffrey Harbison, a member of an archaeological crew working upriver, drowned Tuesday afternoon after the boat he was in went over the dam.

NORTHUMBERLAND -- One man died Tuesday night after a boat he was on went over the Thompson Island Dam, pitching him into the Hudson River, fire officials reported.

A second man survived the plunge, State Police said.

The man who drowned was identified as Jeffrey Harbison of Lambertville, N.J. The man who made it to safety was identifed as Thomas Kutys, 26, of Wynnewood, Penn.

The two men were part of a 5-person archaeological crew hired by General Electric to begin research for Phase 2 of the Hudson River dredging project next summer, according to Mark Behan of Behan Communications, which handles press relations for GE.

The two men were in a small, flat-bottomed boat looking for historical artifacts, while the three others in the crew scoured the shore, Behan said.

The boat had an engine, but it wasn't running for some reason at about 4:30 p.m. when the current carried it over the dam, officials said. Police said the boat became disabled.

Kutys managed to swim to the island and, by shouting, got the attention of a homeowner on West River Road, just south of Purington Road, officials said.

Harbison was not able to get out of the water. Both were wearing life jackets, according to Behan.

Harbison was pronounced dead at Glens Falls Hospital late Tuesday.

Fire crews from Gansevoort, South Glens Falls, Schuylerville, Corinth and Fort Edward responded to the scene and searched the river with spotlights, while South Queensbury, West Glens Falls and the Wilton fire crews, along with the Moreau Emergency Squad, responded to the scene on land, according to Keith Burch, Gansevoort's assistant fire chief.

Both men involved in the capsizing were eventually taken to Glens Falls Hospital.

Burch said the water temperature Tuesday night was 38 degrees.

Behan said the men were private contractors hired by GE, but he wouldn't identify the contracting company Tuesday night.

"The horribly irony is that dredging is completed for Phase 1 and we've had a remarkable safety record until this event occurred. This is a monumental tragedy for everyone involved," he said.

In April of 2005, a Gansevoort man who was fishing with a friend died of hypothermia after he was thrown from their inflatable raft when it went over the Thompson Island Dam.

Searchers on the scene in 2005 estimated that Karl A. Brownell, 20, of Kobor Road, succumbed to the 40-degree water temperature within 10 minutes.


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