Bridgeport teen dead after Skaneateles Lake scuba accident

Brandon Finch

A Bridgeport teenager is dead after a scuba-diving accident on Skaneateles Lake over the weekend.

The Cayuga County Sheriff's Office reports around 11:00 Sunday morning emergency crews responded to North Glen Haven Road in the Town of Niles after a 911 call reported a scuba accident. Police say 16-year-old Brandon M. Finch of Bridgeport was diving 60 feet deep in the south end of Skaneateles Lake when he started rapidly swimming to the surface.

Two men that were with Finch, 33-year-old Carl Hoyt and 23-year-old Theodore Garlock, say he became unresponsive before reaching the surface. Garlock and Hoyt say they were able to bring Finch to the surface and begin CPR until medics arrived.

Police say Finch, who attended Chittenango High School, was taken to Cortland Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Broome County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy, but police say the cause of death has not been determined and they do not know what caused Finch to attempt to surface so quickly.

Police say Finch was certified in diving at 60 feet a few months ago, and both Garlock and Hoyt are certified divers with years of experience.

Finch's obituary states he enjoyed scuba diving, skiing, and other pastimes. He was a student in the North Syracuse School District until November 2012, and a junior member of the Bridgeport Fire Department. He is survived by his parents, Kevin and Sharon Finch.

Those at the Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department are now mourning the loss of their junior firefighter. "We miss him," said fellow junior firefighter Zacharey Forman. "We definitely do miss him."

The department has lowered its flags to half staff and put up purple and black bunting to remember Brandon's service to the company.

"I remember from Day 1 [when] he joined, he was right there, up front, asking questions, wanting to know more about how to do this, how to do that," said Forman.

"When he was able to come up, he was always here, always willing to learn," said Carl Aley, head advisor to the junior volunteers. "And whatever was asked to be done, he did it."

Aley said the company was informed about Brandon's passing via a page sent to all members by Chief Frank Thompson, asking them to come to the station. Forman said the mood at the station has not been the same since the news. "Very somber," said Forman. "Everybody's kinda quiet. I know it's hurt a few people quite bad."

Fire Chief Frank Thompson said a vigil will be held in Brandon's honor outside Chittenango High School on Wednesday evening at 6pm.

Calling hours are set for 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. on Saturday at New Comer Funeral Home, 705 North Main Street in North Syracuse. A funeral will follow at 1:00p.m., also at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to:

Central New York Community Foundation

413 East Fayette Street

Suite 100

Syracuse, NY 13203

The investigation into the case is ongoing.