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Man dies from apparent accidental drowning in pond near Allentown reservoir

Matthew Ruch of Allentown was dead when pulled from the water, officials say.

Man drowns in pond near reservoir in Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An afternoon of fun turned deadly for a man in Allentown on Tuesday.

A group of people was using a makeshift rope swing to jump into a pond near the South Mountain Reservoir in the area of South 10th Street and Reservoir Drive, according Captain John Christopher with the Allentown Fire Department.

Authorities said 24 year-old Matthew Ruch of the 600 block of South Fifth Street in Allentown started to struggle.

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said, "He used the rope swing, used it once, let go, went into the pond and some type of trouble ensued, he started flailing and so forth."

Allentown Police Captain William Reinik said, "His friends asked him to come back but he wanted to swim across. It was about halfway that his friends said they found him in distress, tried to help him and then watched him go under."

Officials said Ruch was the only person in the water at the time.

"His friends were on the swing also, that's where they came down and tried to jump in the water to swim to him but he had disappeared prior to them getting there," said Reinik.

Authorities said the water was about 15 feet deep and murky. Friends tried to help and then called 911.

"They tried to help him and couldn't get to him fast enough," said Reinik.

The Allentown Fire Department dive team was among the responders.

"First diver in found him immediately, brought him to the surface," said Christopher. "He was unresponsive with no vital signs."

Christopher said the dive team trains in that water several times a year.

"It's very dangerous, you don't know what's under the water. There's no safety measures," he said. "We have problems with this area, especially in the winter."

Reinik said Ruch was dead when he was pulled out of the water.

"It appears that he had drowned," he said.

Allentown Police Captain Tony Alsleben also said it appears to be a case of accidental drowning.

The coroner's office was called around 5 p.m. and Ruch was pronounced dead at 5:33 p.m.

An autopsy onr Wednesday confirmed that Ruch drowned. His death was ruled an accident.

Reinik said, "We just warn people if you can't swim or if you're swimming in an area where there's no lifeguards or anybody to help you, please think twice about it."

"We want you to go to a pool," said Christopher, "Somewhere that's controlled conditions, lifeguards."

The coroner's office and Allentown police are investigating.

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