Quincy native drowns after boat capsizes

Posted: Aug. 27, 2014 12:55 pm Updated: Sep. 17, 2014 1:15 pm


BRANSON, Mo. -- A Quincy, Ill., native died Tuesday after a boat hit a submerged tree and capsized at Lake Taneycomo in southwest Missouri.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said the Rev. Gary A. Bernhardt, 56, was a passenger in a 1994 Shawnee johnboat at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. The boat drifted, struck a fallen tree in the water, then capsized a quarter-mile east of the dam, about three miles from Branson.

The operator of the boat, James Pelletier, 71, of O'Fallon, Mo., and another passenger climbed to safety by getting on top of the boat and taking hold of a tree limb. The two men were unhurt, the Highway Patrol said.

Bernhardt, son of Carl and Maggie Bernhardt of Quincy, was swept downstream. He was not wearing a life jacket.

When Bernhardt, a St. Louis priest, was found, he was not breathing, the patrol said.

First responders administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the dock. Bernhardt was taken to a Branson hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. Tuesday.

The Highway Patrol considers the death an apparent drowning.

There are tentative plans for a service in Quincy.