100 Years of Drownings at Harvey's Lake
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Dr. Davis's Report on Drownings
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Kingston Boy Drowned at
Harvey’s Lake as Thousands Seek
Relief From Intense Heat

The Wilkes-Barre Record, July 2, 1945.

Harry F. Sorber, Jr., Thrown from Capsized Boat and Disappears; Outworn Tires Fail to Hold Up and Many Flats Reported

Sweltering heat that held the thermometer close to 90 degrees through most of yesterday caused throngs to jam the nearby resorts and was contributory to the drowning of a Kingston youth who sought relief at Harvey’s Lake.

Trying to escape the sultry temperatures which hit a high of 91 yesterday afternoon, Harry F. Sorber, Jr., 16, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sorber, Sr., of 44 Carle Street, Kingston, drowned while swimming at Wardan Place.

With John Mason, 16, of Kingston; Charles Howell, 6, of Wilkes-Barre; John Kearney, 17, of Kingston, and John Hagen, 13, of Kingston, young Sorber went to the lake where a boat was rented from Bryant’s at Sunset.

The youths rowed the boat to Wardan Place and were having an enjoyable time “rocking the boat” about 65 feet from the shore.

Harvey’s Lake Chief of Police Fred Swanson, whose three-year record of no drownings at the resort was marred by yesterday’s tragic death, was on shore and had attempted to attract the attention of the youths to warn them to come closer to shore.

The boat, said Chief Swanson, was partly submerged, and appeared to capsize. The boys swam around the craft for a time, and then called for help.

The Sorber boy disappeared from the surface following his cry for aid at approximately 3:20.

Muddy Water Hinders Rescue

Nearby boatmen were ordered by Chief Swanson to go to the aid of the youth, and volunteer divers explored the bottom of the section of the lake, but the water in that area is muddy, said Swanson, and their efforts were fruitless.

Under the direction of the chief, Corp. John Betsko and Pvt. James Durkin of the State Police who had been assigned to help in controlling the huge crowds and heavy traffic, along with Alex Burnick, 58 Terrace Street, Plymouth, Peter Novice, 73 Vaughn Street, Kingston, and Henry Sipple, Kingston, grappling operations were started.

The youth’s body was recovered at 4:40, and for an hour Chief Swanson, Patrolman John Lukavitch, and the other volunteer rescue workers attempted to revive the youth.

However, Drs. Benjamin S. Davis, Plymouth, and Peter Casterline, who directed the activities, both pronounced Sorber dead.

Sorber was graduated from the eight grade last month and would have entered Kingston High School this fall. He was a member of Kingston Methodist Church.

Besides his parents, he is survived by these five sisters: Mrs. Euelda Schultz, New Jersey; Ruth, Hunter College, N.Y.; Mae, Jean, and Florence, all at home. His paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sorber of Kingston, also survive.

The funeral will be held from the Doron-Hughes Funeral Home, 392 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston, Wednesday morning at 10:30 with Rev. Charles Phillips, pastor of Kingston Methodist Church, officiating. Interment will be in Sorber Cemetery, Sorbertown. Friends may call at the funeral home Tuesday evening between 7 and 10.

Lake Treacherous Chief Says

Following the recovery of Sorber’s body, Chief Swanson issued warning to general public that Harvey’s Lake is a treacherous body of water for those who are not acquainted with the fact it is fed mostly by springs, some cold and others warm.

The Chief declared that the heat “drives the folks out here, they get into a bathing suit, and then they seem to lose all common sense and do things in the water in which no thinking person would do.”

He declared that the public in general, when they swim at Harvey’s Lake, are taking their lives into their own hands. “Though the Harvey’s Lake police force does the best it can, our officers can’t be everywhere at the same time, and the public should use common sense in helping eliminate danger of drowning,” he said.

Roads to and around the resort were choked at all times, State police reported, and this was especially true of Harvey’s Lake where Chief Swanson reported that traffic yesterday was the heaviest in many years.

Pre-war rubber and substitutes used in recapping tires failed to hold up under the heat and travel, the chief said, and the number of automobiles with flat tires was amazing.

“At one point alone,” said Swanson, “we observed three automobiles in line, all with flat tires. It was the same all around the lake, bad tires blown out.”



Copyright 2006-2007 F. Charles Petrillo