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Man, 48, missing and presumed drowned on Chautauqua Lake

MAYVILLE – A 48-year-old Chautauqua County man is missing and presumed drowned late Saturday after he fell off an inner tube or inflatable raft while being pulled by a boat on Chautauqua Lake, Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace told The Buffalo News.

Emergency crews and a Sheriff’s Office dive team called off the search that had covered a wide swath of Chautauqua Lake about 9:30 p.m. as darkness fell, and the search for the missing man is now a recovery operation, Gerace said.

The report that the man had gone into the water came in before 7 p.m. Gerace said the man and at least one other family member, who was operating the boat, were out on the water, with the man being towed by a line attached to a speedboat or motorboat. Gerace said he didn’t know for sure whether the man was wearing a life preserver.

The man went into the water somewhere between Chautauqua and Mayville, north of the Chautauqua Institution at the northern end of the lake. The lake overall is 17 miles long, two miles wide at its widest point and about 78 feet deep at its deepest point.

The sheriff’s Marine Division, along with boats from the Chautauqua, Bemus Point, Ashville and Dewittville fire departments responded to begin searching the lake, assisted by the sheriff’s dive team and a Starflight helicopter.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released the man’s name. The search will resume come daylight Sunday.