Letchworth waterfall deaths of children result in indictments against 2 men

WARSAW, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 28-count indictment was handed down against two Rochester men who were swept over a 70-foot Letchworth waterfall, along with five children.

Prosecutors say Tyler Jennings, 34, and Chad Staley, 32, visited Letchworth State Park with the children this past June. During the visit, prosecutors say the seven of them entered a restricted area of the park — the water right above the Lower Falls.

Authorities say the group was trying to see the waterfalls up close.

After the seven were swept by the strong current, only five made it out alive. Two of the children, Dylan Giangregorio, 9, and Preston Giangregorio, 6, were killed.

The boys’ bodies were recovered in a couple days’ time.

The two men, and the other children, whose ages ranged from five to 12, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Staley had been trapped on the brink of the falls for nearly two hours.

Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen released a statement on the investigation:

“While this case is truly tragic and our hearts go out to the family of the Giangregorio family it is important to note that their deaths were 100 percent preventable.  After reviewing the thorough investigation completed by members of the NYS Park Police, and personally surveying the area above the lower falls I felt that a review by the members of the Wyoming County Grand Jury was warranted and the indictment in this case was the result of their decision.

It is also important to note that the signage in any park mean something. They are they to give notice, warning and assistance so that your stay can be enjoyable and safe.  In the area where this occurred the signage is clear and unmistakable.  However, regardless of signs or no signs any area directly above or within close proximately to a major waterfall is inherently dangerous and common sense would dictate not allowing children to play in that vicinity.  It is a miracle that four other people did not die from going over the falls and it is because of the quick work of first responders and the specialized rescue teams that the fifth person was rescued before serious injury or death occurred.”

Staley and Jennings face two counts of manslaughter, two counts of criminally negligent homicide and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, each.

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