Drowning victim identified as Town Lake activities coordinator - New York News

Drowning victim identified as Tempe Town Lake activities coordinator

Posted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -

What started out as an inspiring morning with Pat's Run in Tempe ended sadly when the city's Town Lake coordinator fell off his boat and drowned.

The call for help came in just before 9 a.m.  Kayakers at the lake had seen a man fall off a boat and was obviously in trouble in the water.

"Upon arrival of our units, they found numerous people trying to.. dive in a location where they had seen a person in a boat that had fallen out go under," said Tempe Fire Dept. Assistant Chief John Valenzuela.

"There was people on the rowing team that actually see him.. saw the distress, rowed out to him.. they had visual on him before he went under," he added.

Despite everyone's efforts to locate the man, now identified as 56-year-old City of Tempe employee Joe Okie O'Connor, they could not find him in the 18 to 20 foot deep water.

The Tempe Fire Department's dive team later began the task of recovering O'Connor's body, which they did find around 1:30 p.m.

"Right now, it does appear it was a very tragic accident.  There's nothing that indicates there was any foul play," said Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Pooley.

A peaceful Saturday morning on Tempe Town Lake was shattered by tragedy.

"It's been a sad week and this just adds to it.  It's a beautiful day out here and people out trying to enjoy everything and this is very sad.  I feel bad for the person and the family," said Tempe resident Sherie Wallace.

O'Connor was a constant fixture at the lake -- always sharing his passion and getting people excited about boating and kayaking.

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