News of Otsego County

John Smirk

B&B Owner Drowns As Car Runs Into Lake

B&B Owner Drowns

As Car Runs Into Lake

2 Officers Injured In Rescue Attempt

Police cruisers, fire trucks and an ambulance hurried to Cooperstown’s Fair Street boat ramp Sunday, April 14, after a report a car had ended up in Otsego Lake. Despite rescue effort, the driver drowned. (Jim Kevln/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta

COOPERSTOWN – It’s rare, but not unheard of, for a car to end up in a body of water, said Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. after last week’s fatal submersion off the boat ramp into Otsego Lake at the end of Fair Street.

“Before I was sheriff, someone drove into the Susquehanna River,” he said. “They were unfamiliar with the area and drove down what they thought was a road, but was the boat launch.”

Police are still investigating of how John Smirk’s car ended up submerged in Otsego Lake. “For unknown reasons, he drove into the lake,” said Village Patrolman Vincent Cavalieri.

John W. Smirk, Jr., 75; Cooperstown B&B Owner


John W. Smirk, Jr., 75;

Cooperstown B&B Owner

John W. Smirk

COOPERSTOWN – John W. Smirk Jr., 75, a Navy veteran, manager of New York City skyscapers, and proprietor of the Cooperstown B&B with his late wife Linda, died Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Born Jan. 24, 1944, in Long Beach, Calif., John was the son of John W. and Elizabeth (Kirkbride) Smirk.

He grew up in Brooklyn and spent summers in Greenwood Lake, N.J. It was there that John’s love of “life at the lake” began.

In 1965, John enlisted in the Navy and honorably served his country as a seaman during the Vietnam War aboard the USS Coral Sea.

Victim Identified As John Smirk, Owned Local B&B

Victim Identified

As John Smirk,

Owned Local B&B

Officer Cavalieri, Deputy Grimes

Injured Trying To Rescue Driver

Traces of blood from officers who broke the window on John Smirk’s vehicle, try to saves the man, were still visible on the dock by the Fair Street boat launch this morning. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Deputy Grimes
Officer Cavalieri

COOPERSTOWN – The former owner of the Cooperstown B&B, John Smirk, 75, was identified as the man who drowned in Otsego Lake last night after his vehicle ran off the dock at the bottom of Fair Street at 8:30 p.m., Cooperstown police said.

Two officers injured trying to rescue the driver were identified as Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Grimes and Village Police Office Vincent Cavalieri.  They were treated at Bassett Hospital and released, as was an unidentified medic.

Smirk and his wife Linda, who passed away in 2016, operated the Cooperstown B&B at 80 Chestnut St. for decades.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103