‘Asphyxiation due to drowning’ caused death of sheriff’s diver
Heart problems also cited
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