Local News

Former high school teacher dies in lake

Staff report

POULTNEY—A former high school teacher, known for cracking jokes and caring for his students far beyond school, died in a boating accident on Lake St. Catherine last week.

State police pronounced Thomas Flood, 61, of Schenectady, N.Y., drowned after police discovered his body around 3:20 p.m. Friday, July 6 in about 50 feet of water after he fell from the boat Thursday afternoon, July 5.

Police said Flood slipped and fell in the water while trying to maneuver it. The boat he was riding in with his wife drifted away in choppy and windy conditions.

Flood’s wife was unable to find him later and Flood was unable to swim back to the vessel.

Police said Flood was not wearing a flotation device.

The Floods were staying at a family camp on the lake for Independence Day.

Flood was a high school English teacher at Niskayuna High School in New York until he retired in 2014.

Susan Rells, his former student from 1996, recently reconnected with him on Facebook.

“We would crack jokes back and forth about movies, baseball, politics, food … everything. He kept in touch with so many former students,” she said. “He pretended to be gruff and was very sarcastic, but it was obvious he loved teaching and really took pride in our success – not just as English Literature students, but as humans.”

Rells, who now works as a book publisher, said Flood inspired her as he inspired many of his students.

A search by multiple first-response agencies, including divers from two New York teams using sonar, were unsuccessful in locating Flood on Thursday. Police suspended searching for Flood for the day at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5 and resumed at 8 a.m. Friday, July 6, with the Vermont State Police Dive Team.

Agencies from New York and Vermont assisted in the search, including Vermont State Police, the Poultney Fire Department and the Wells Fire Department. The Corinth Fire Department Dive Team and the South Glens Falls Dive Team from New York helped in the search as did the Washington County Department of Public Safety.

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