Emergency personnel were shocked when what they believed to be a cadaver floating in the Susquehanna River suddenly sat up and looked around.
The man, Joseph DeAngelo, said he was just enjoying the cool water on a hot Thursday afternoon.
"I was on my back, looking up at the sky. It was just like being on a cloud," DeAngelo said.
The “death” of Joseph DeAngelo turned out to be greatly exaggerated, as the man merely was napping as he floated in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River Thursday. The spotting of his motionless body, however, prompted a passerby to call authorities to report a dead body in the river.
DeAngelo, who was wearing a flotation device, said he originally had floated out to a mucky area, but then worked his way over toward deeper water. There, in the ripples, he became so comfy that he took a brief nap, he said.
Around 12:30 p.m., an unidentified woman who was traveling along the bike path next to the river, saw DeAngelo floating face-up and not moving. She immediately alerted authorities.
City police and firefighters arrived on scene. They were met by state police and a state forensic unit. The river is state police territory, officials said.
Once they saw DeAngelo not moving in the water, emergency personnel called in Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr.
"He was bobbing up and down in the water and he really looked like he was dead," Kiessling said.
"He was face-up and wearing a life vest. We were sure he had expired, but I guess he just fell asleep in the water," he added.
Police and firefighters were making a plan, trying to determine the easiest way to get the cadaver out of the water and transport it up the steep, rocky hill. But, DeAngelo suddenly sat up and looked around.
"Let me tell you, it was quite a shock for us," Kiessling said. "This is the first time I've ever gotten to the scene and the person ended up being alive."
DeAngelo said he and his son often come to the river to cool off. He was just as shocked as everyone else to see emergency personnel standing around.
"I didn't mean to worry anyone," DeAngelo said. "It's nice and quiet, very peaceful, especially on a nice summer day like this, just to float and forget your troubles."