HALIFAX– A man who drowned while boating at Silver Lake Friday, June 3, has been recovered and identified. Shi Hu, 28, of Boston, was found in the water shortly after noon, Sunday, June 5, by State Police divers, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz.
Local officials said that at approximately 1:23 p.m., Friday, June 3, the Halifax Fire Department and the Halifax Police Department responded to a report that an individual had fallen into the water and was struggling offshore from the Brockton-owned water treatment facility located on Route 36, situated on Silver Lake straddling the Halifax/Pembroke line.
There were multiple witnesses to the incident, both from the water and shore, saying they believed the victim was fishing with a friend, according to officials. The friend was in a canoe, and the victim was in a kayak, which then overturned.
The friend attempted to reach the victim before he went underwater, but was unable to reach him in time. An investigation into how the drowning exactly occurred is ongoing. The victim was not believed to be wearing a life preserver, multiple sources say.
During the initial response, employees at the water treatment facility assisted firefighters by shuttling them on a facilities boat to the last known position of the victim. That initial search was not successful, at which time Halifax officials called for assistance from the State Police, Environmental Police and the Plymouth County Technical Response Team (Dive Unit).
More than a dozen Plymouth County communities responded, and scores of rescuers from local and state agencies were quickly on scene with specialized equipment, coordinated by Halifax Fire Chief Jason Vivieros.
Rescuers suspended the search on Friday evening, after a herculean effort to locate the missing boater with no success. By Saturday morning, the search and rescue mission had grimly turned into a recovery operation.
The State brought in a mobile command post and other assets to assist with the recovery efforts. Personnel from as far away as Rhode Island were seen and a staging area for divers was bustling with activity as firefighters, police, and others supported the efforts of divers in the lake from shore.
Advanced “side-scan” sonar was used to scour the lake bottom, along with cameras and other technologies, which had very low visibility, say sources. Sonar (sound navigation and ranging) uses sound waves to find and identify objects in the water. Side-scan sonar is a specialized system for detecting objects at the bottom of a body of water.
At around 11 a.m., Saturday, about a half-dozen family members of the victim arrived, and appeared to speak with various officials, who sources say updated them on the recovery efforts. They could be seen, visibly distraught, under a tent set up on a lawn near the mobile command post.
Local firefighters and police were seen comforting them and providing them with water and other amenities. The family members left after about two hours. Members of the press were politely asked to keep their distance, which they did, although distraught crying could be heard from hundreds of feet away.
On Sunday, the decedent was finally recovered, under gray skies and a light rain. Although State Police say they actually made the recovery, they did note that it was a “cooperative mission.” Within a couple of hours, almost everyone had left, leaving behind just a handful of law enforcement and fire officials.
Officials say they do not yet know how the man gained access to the lake (and if so, if it was via the treatment facility), although Halifax Police Chief Edward Broderick mentioned that Silver Lake is a popular fishing area, where fishing may be, “Tolerated…”, but, “not encouraged.”
Use of the lake is restricted because it is a component of the City of Brockton water supply. “No Trespassing” signs are widely visible around Silver Lake. Motor boats and swimming are strictly prohibited, but other restrictions Brockton puts on the lake were not specifically known. Broderick could not say if the man was trespassing on the lake at the time of the incident.
The Plymouth County Tactical Response Unit, via Twitter, thanked all of the responding agencies. In a statement late Sunday evening, Chief Broderick on behalf of the Town of Halifax said, “Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of [the victim of] this tragedy.”