Harrrisburg, PA – Harold R. “Randy” Loew III was remembered Thursday as a giving person who would do anything for family members or friends.
“Randy was that guy you could call at 2 a.m. if you had a problem, and he would show up,” said Lee Hunt of Linglestown.
Loew, 53, died of carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday while trying to install an external drain plug on his 29-foot boat at Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County.
He was standing in the water at the rear of the boat and died after being overcome by the exhaust of its twin engines.
More than 300 people attended Loew’s funeral yesterday at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Lower Paxton Twp. Loew, of Linglestown, was the owner of Loew’s General Construction Co.
Three of Loew’s closest friends — Hunt, Ken Jovanelly of Fairview Twp., and Frank Whitcomb of Linglestown — were among them.
Jovanelly said he and Loew became friends 40 years ago while attending John Harris High School in Harrisburg.
Whitcomb said everyone in his family knew that Loew was the person to call in an emergency.
“It was an unspoken thing, but my children and everyone else knew they could call Randy if something happened to me or if something happened when I wasn’t around,” he said. “He was that kind of guy. There wasn’t a better person than Randy.
“For the past few days, I’ve been asking myself, ‘is this what Randy would do, is this how he would act,'” Whitcomb said.
Dan Martin, director of Boating and Access for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, whose job includes reviewing fatal boating accidents, said Loew’s death was caused by a fluke accident.
“This is the first death like this we’ve had in Pennsylvania,” Martin said. “I’ve been reviewing boating accidents for 21 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.
The accident is under investigation, Martin said.
Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless, tasteless gas that can be fatal in just a few breaths in high concentrations.
“This type of accident usually happens where a lot of boats are moored together, like a party cove,” Martin said.
Water skiers also can be overcome by carbon monoxide fumes if they are too close to the boat, he said.
Loew apparently was aware of the danger. He had his children read books on boating safety and instilled in them how to be a safe boater, a family member said.
The danger of exposure to carbon monoxide is included in the state’s boating handbook and in pamphlets that are available at marinas and other locations, and the danger is covered in all safe-boating courses, Martin said.
“We encourage everyone to take a safe boating course,” he said.
Jovanelly said he and Loew went up to Loew’s lake house at Raystown Lake on Thursday to install a ceramic tile kitchen floor. Saturday afternoon they decided to launch Loew’s boat, “Loew Rider,” for the first time this season.
Loew was standing in the boat while Jovanelly backed up a Chevrolet Tahoe and boat trailer to put the boat in the slip. He then parked the vehicle and was walking back to the slip when Loew fired up the engines, Jovanelly said.
“I walked up and Randy said, ‘Pull the boat up. I forgot to put the plug in.'”
The plug is a drain plug in the bilge, at the rear of the boat, which is used to drain out the boat after use. This one was an external screw-in plug which has to be installed from outside the boat.
Without the plug, the boat was taking on water, and Loew jumped into the water to install it.
“‘It will be cold, Ken,’ he said, ‘but I have to get the plug in,'” Jovanelly said.
“He was standing in the water, breathing in the exhaust fumes and passed out before I knew what was happening,” Jovanelly said.