‘As­phyx­i­a­tion due to drown­ing’ caused death of sher­iff’s diver

Heart prob­lems also cited

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Free­man staff

Ulster County Sher­iff’s Sgt. Kerry Winters died of “as­phyx­i­a­tion due to drown­ing,” with “other sig­nif­i­cant con­di­tions con­tribut­ing to death,” a state po­lice cap­tain said Wed­nes­day.

Capt. Pierce Gal­lagher said Winters’ death cer­tifi­cate states the con­tribut­ing con­di­tions were two heart-re­lated prob­lems: car­diomy­opa­thy and atheroscle­rotic coro­nary artery dis­ease.

The of­fi­cial cause of death was is­sued less than a week af­ter state po­lice said a “med­i­cal in­ci­dent” contributed to Winters’ death.

Winters, 51, a 30-year veteran of the Sher­iff’s Of­fice and an Ulster County Sher­iff’s Of­fice dive team mem­ber, fell un­con­scious Sept. 22 dur­ing an in-water dive train­ing ex­er­cise in the Ashokan Reser­voir in the town of Olive. He died af­ter be­ing found un­con­scious in the water.

The sergeant, an ex­pe­ri­enced

and ac­com­plished diver who had been on the sher­iff’s dive team for 15 years, was wear­ing full dive gear and a backup air sup­ply when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred, Sher­iff Paul VanBlar­cum said the fol­low­ing day.

The sher­iff said Winters was miss­ing for less than five min­utes when the search-and-res­cue ef­fort be­gan.

Winters’ death was to be in­ves­ti­gated by state po­lice and the fed­eral Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion, VanBlar­cum said. The sta­tus of the OSHA in­ves­ti­ga­tion was not im­me­di­ately avail­able Wed­nes­day.

Winters, whose full-time as­sign­ment was be­ing a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer at the Ulster County Jail, was laid to rest Sept. 29 af­ter his fu­neral at a church in the Sauger­ties ham­let of Glasco. More than 1,000 law-en­force­ment per­son­nel and other emer­gency re­spon­ders lined U.S. Route 9W to pay their last re­spects as the fu­neral pro­ces­sion made its way from the church to the ceme­tery.

Winters is sur­vived by his wife, Michele, and two sons.


Sgt. Kerry Winters

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