LAKE LUZERNE -- The man who is missing after he went over Rockwell Falls in a rented inflatable kayak/raft Sunday was videotaped by patrons of a nearby restaurant who watched the incident unfold, police said Monday.
State Police identified the missing man as Brian P. Cromie, 42, of Massena, and said the former Corinth resident was in the area visiting relatives when the boat he was in went over the turbulent falls on the Hudson River about 5 p.m. Sunday.
The boat was found downstream but Cromie has not been heard from since. He was described as a father of three who was a lifeguard and diver.
Divers searched Sunday to no avail, but did not resume the search Monday because of high water and expected releases from Stewart Reservoir on the Sacandaga River that would affect the Hudson River’s level. The area where Cromie went under is very turbulent and dangerous.
Cromie and two friends had rented inflatable raft/kayak hybrid boats from River Ridin’, a boat rental business on Route 9N in Lake Luzerne, and took them to the Hudson River in the Buttermilk state area upstream of Lake Luzerne. Chandler Atkins, owner of the business, said they were provided with life vests.
The boats the men used were the Tubetracker brand “covered steerable river tube,” according to the company’s website.
They had the boats for much of the day and floated downstream late Sunday afternoon.
The two friends pulled theirs ashore upstream of the falls, but Cromie continued downstream.
State Police said it was not known whether he intentionally went over the falls, but Atkins said he believed the plunge was likely intentional.
The river is wide and fairly slow upstream of the falls, even when swollen by rain.
“I think it had to be deliberate. I think he wanted to go over the falls,” Atkins said.
The two men who were with Cromie watched the river off Bay Road on Monday morning, one speaking to a reporter for a few seconds about his friend’s extensive experience in the water. The group would not comment further.
State Police said patrons at UpRiver Cafe in Lake Luzerne watched as the man and the boat floated over the falls, one person apparently videotaping the plunge, according to police. Further details on who videotaped the incident were not available Monday.
The area of the river where Cromie disappeared is not used by commercial whitewater rafters or tubing outfitters.
Warren County Emergency Services Director Brian LaFlure said, based on prior incidents at the falls, the victim was likely trapped in a turbulent “boil” of water below the falls, where other victims of the falls have been trapped over the years. The area is too dangerous for divers.
“The boil there is impossible to deal with,” he said. “A lot of them have wound up there and you usually have to wait until they pop out.”
A number of people have drowned in the river below or near the falls over the years. Victims of the falls in the past have typically floated out when the current weakens and river level drops.
The river and many others in the region have been swelled to dangerous levels by recent rains.
A Whitehall man is missing in the Mettawee River after he was pulled under while swimming off Upper Turnpike in North Granville on Saturday. Divers have temporarily halted the search for him because of dangerous conditions but hoped to resume late Monday if conditions allow.
Area residents were being warned to be careful on rivers until their levels drop.
Rafting on the Sacandaga River had been temporarily halted Monday to allow the river level in the Hudson just downstream from the falls.
Area rafting companies continued to run trips on the Hudson on Monday with licensed guides. John Duncan, owner of Sacandaga Outdoor Center in Hadley, said the river is safe for rafting at Monday’s levels with a licensed, professional outfitter.