Accident Database

Report ID# 3327

  • Unknown
  • Does not Apply
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description

The drowning appears to have occurred well above the popular Staircase section. I've never paddled it there but am pretty sure it's class I / II and the water level was ordinary. No word on helmet nor PFD yet.

Funkstown man apparently drowned while kayaking


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The body of a 22-year-old Funkstown man who apparently drowned Saturday while kayaking in the Shenandoah River was found Monday night, police said. Ryan Shultz’s body was found about one mile upstream from Shannondale Springs at 7:18 p.m. by members of Independent Fire Co.’s water rescue team, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ron Fletcher said.

Shultz was reported missing about 3:15 p.m. Monday by his parents, who contacted the Harpers Ferry Police Department and provided a description of what vehicle he was driving, Fletcher said. His father last talked with him Saturday, police said. Shultz’s vehicle was spotted Saturday parked along John Rissler Road about one-half mile from W.Va. 9, Fletcher said. It was reported suspicious, but the investigating deputy, after seeing rafting-related items in the vehicle, believed that the boater would return to the vehicle, Fletcher said.“At that time, we didn’t know anyone was missing.” Boaters on Saturday found some of Shultz’s belongings and his kayak in and along the river, Fletcher said.

Shultz last talked with his father at about 9 a.m. Saturday while paddling up the river, Fletcher said. Shultz was kayaking alone, but his parents told police he had boating experience, Fletcher said. “The river has no conscience,” Jefferson County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley said. “We were hoping for a different outcome.” Shirley said Shultz’s parents had traveled to Jefferson County and were told by police that their son had died. m“It was a tough situation,” Shirley said. An autopsy will be conducted by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Center, Fletcher said. Maryland State Police helicopters assisted emergency personnel from Independent, Citizens Fire Co. and Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department in the search, Shirley said.


Missing kayaker’s body found in Shenandoah River

Funkstown, Md. man’s body found Monday night after extensive search efforts By Edward Marshall, Journal Staff Writer POSTED: May 4, 2010 Missing kayaker’s body found in Shenandoah River SHANNONDALE - A search and rescue operation turned into a recovery effort Monday night after a Maryland kayaker missing since Saturday was found dead in the Shenandoah River.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and surrounding rescue agencies launched the rescue effort Monday afternoon after the 22-year-old Funkstown man failed to report to work, prompting family to contact police. His body was found at about 7:21 p.m. in the Shenandoah River in the area of the Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area off Mission Road. "We just found him probably about a half-hour ago deceased," Jefferson County Sheriff Robert "Bobby" Shirley said shortly after 8 p.m. Monday night.

The victim's mother, father and sister were at the scene when his body was found. "I was the one that told his family here, and it's very hard for me to tell families. You know it was their only son, and it's always hard," Shirley said. Police were waiting for the county's medical examiner to look over the area where the victim's body was found before transporting it from the scene. Shirley said he believed the victim's first name was Ryan, but he didn't know yet what the man's last name was. "I don't know his last name. I haven't got that information," Shirley said.

The victim's father last heard from his son between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning after the victim had traveled to the area to go kayaking. "He was on the river then and he said it was a beautiful day, and he told his dad that he wished they were there with him," Shirley said. The man never returned home Saturday night, and his abandoned kayak was found submerged in the river at about 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon by other people kayaking in the area, Shirley said. On Sunday, deputy reserves with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department found the missing man's vehicle on John Rissler Road, which runs along the Shenandoah River. The man had not been reported missing at the time. The vehicle was found to be registered to the victim after officials checked to see if it had been reported stolen. The man's kayak was not found with the vehicle when it was discovered.

The search and rescue effort was launched Monday afternoon after the victim still had not returned home. "I guess it was around 3:30 p.m. I think when his parent called and said that he hadn't reported to work today. That's when we started putting all of this together and came down and started searching," Shirley said. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department along with rescue workers from the Blue Ridge, Citizens and Independent fire companies assisted with the large, coordinated search effort. Rescue workers in boats searched the river while other personnel and police searched along the riverbank and surrounding areas on foot. The Maryland State Police also assisted in the search by flying two helicopters over the search area.

Shirley had held out hope that the missing kayaker would be found alive, but those hopes were tragically dashed upon the discovery of the body. "It's very difficult. That's the hardest part of the job," Shirley said.


Staff writer Edward Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or

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