|Birth: ||Apr. 5, 1923|
|Death: ||Jul. 11, 1945|
Former Prisoner of Germany And Friend Drown In Ohio
Third Youth Rescued Near Shore
A sailing lark in a home-made tragedy when two Louisville youths, one of them a former war prisoner in Germany, drowned at 2:30 p.m. yesterday when the wind blew the craft away from where they were swimming in midstream in the Ohio River opposite the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company. A third youth escaped.
Drowned were Second Lt. Claude Kelly, 22, husband of Mrs. Rachel Kelly and son of Mrs. Helen Kelly, both of 119 Boston Court, and James Fitz-Gibbon, 17, son of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Fitz-Gibbon, 121 Boston Court.
3d Picked Up By Boat.
The third member of the boating party, Robert Fischer, 17, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Fischer, 305 Cecil, said he was able to swim to within 100 feet of the Kentucky shore, where he was picked up by a motorboatman who said he had heard the youths cries, but believed they were only playing.
"We were diving off the boat and I guess we all three went off at the same time, " Fischer explained. "The sails were down but a stiff wind blew the boat away from us before we knew what was happening. The other boys were only 5 or 6 feet from our boat, and tried to swim after it, but it was going as fast as a motorboat and they couldn't catch it. Then we all started to pull for shore."
Wound Might Have Hurt.
Kelly who served 14 months in the European area, suffered an arm wound that perhaps interfered with his swimming.
Fischer went back to midstream in the motorboat to search for the two missing youths, both friends since early childhood. Coastguardmen last night said they had recovered the sailboat and were still dragging for the bodies. The river was reported to be approximately 50' feet deep in some places near where the pair went down.
Mrs. Kelly, 22, whom her husband had taken ashore from the boat earlier in the day when the water became rough, remarked, "If only I had just stayed aboard I could have held the boat or thrown them something." She said she remained in her automobile waiting for the swimmers and knew nothing of the incident until coastguardmen informed her.
Say Youths Swam Well.
Relatives said all the youths could swim well, and that Fitz-Gibbon and Fischer, who owned the boat, had gone sailing in it several times since the craft was launched June 30.
Mrs. Fischer explained that her son, a graduate of Flaget High School, was vacationing from his job at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation.
She added that Robert and Fitz-Gibbon were interested in water sports. They had planned to join the Navy together.
Kelly was a graduate of Louisville Male High School and Fitz-Gibbon was a senior there. Kelly was employed at the Mengel Company before he entered service, and was married 18 months ago.
Kelly also is survived by a brother, Sgt. John Kelly, Jr., and Fitz-Gibbon also is survived by three brothers, William Fitz-Gibbon, John "Jack" Fitz-Gibbon, and Jerry Fitz-Gibbon.
Published in The Courier-Journal July 12, 1945.
John Arthur Kelly (1899 - 1945)
Helen Pauline Nagel Williams (1904 - 2001)
Cave Hill Cemetery
Created by: Paula Z
Record added: Oct 02, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30265249