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The search for a missing kayaker continues in Ohiopyle State Park. Rescue workers are looking for a 31-year-old Westmoreland County man who went missing shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday. Authorities said the man, who is from Acme, entered the Youghiogheny River in a kayak near Stewarton with a friend. Once in the park, he was swept away by the rapids and was last seen clinging to a rock. The Army Corps of Engineers lowered the river level to 5 feet, and multiple search teams combed the water and woods for the man. "The four outfitters are actively, aggressively searching for this missing kayaker and we are doing everything we can to locate him," said Park Operations Manager James Jurann.
Kayaker's body recovered from river in Fayette County
By Bob Stiles TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, May 28, 2011 Last updated: 8:19 am
The body of a kayaker who went missing last weekend in swift waters at Ohiopyle State Park was pulled from the Youghiogheny River on Friday in Dunbar Township. Jason Whipkey, 31, of New Florence was removed shortly after noon from a section of the river along Riverside Drive near the Wheeler Bottom treatment plant, according to James Juran, Ohiopyle State Park manager, and the Fayette County Coroner's Office. "It was seen (by a worker) just below the plant in South Connellsville," Juran said.
Fayette County Coroner Philip Reilly said an autopsy would likely be performed today by Cyril Wecht and Pathology Associates of Pittsburgh. Whipkey was identified yesterday by his brother, Brian, and pronounced dead at 2:07 p.m. at the river by Deputy Coroner John Kondrla. State park personnel, state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources employees, state police, the county coroner's office, volunteer firefighters and others were involved in the search during the past few days and in removing the body from the water.
Whipkey and another boater, Matthew Jennings, 21, of Derry, hit rough waters on the afternoon of May 21. Jennings made it ashore and reported his friend missing after he failed to show up at a predetermined meeting spot. The river, 7 feet above normal level, was moving swiftly when the men launched their kayaks from an unapproved location near the Stewarton rapids at 3 p.m. May 21. Neither had whitewater rafting experience, and neither was wearing a life jacket, Juran said. The kayaks the men used were flat-bottomed and are not designed for whitewater rafting, he added. Jennings said that he fell out of his kayak but was able to pull himself out of the water to safety. He then went to his vehicle and waited a few hours because he believed his friend would stick to their plan, kayak down the river to Connellsville, where they had left a second vehicle parked, and return to get him, Juran said. About 8 p.m., the Derry man walked to a nearby house to call authorities. Reilly said funeral arrangements would be handled by the Galone-Caruso Funeral Home in Mt. Pleasant. Read more: Kayaker's body recovered from river in Fayette County -
Yough Running at 7.9 feet at 12 noon Sat.
Youghiogheny River shores scoured in search for kayaker
By Mark Hofmann and Bob Stiles
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Rescuers resumed searching on Monday for a 31-year-old Acme man who fell into the high, swift waters of the Youghiogheny River while kayaking over the weekend at Ohiopyle State Park. The man and another boater, who made it ashore and reported the other kayaker missing, hit rough waters Saturday afternoon. Authorities have not released the men's identities.
State Park personnel, state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources employees, volunteer firefighters and river outfitters were involved in the search until fog set in Saturday night, until dusk Sunday and again yesterday, combing the shoreline using ATVs and boats.
The man could have made it out of the river and could be lost in the woods at Ohiopyle, the largest state park in Pennsylvania, park manager James Juran said.
"Everything we can do, we're actively pursuing," he said.
The river, 7 feet above normal level, was moving swiftly when the Acme man and a 21-year-old friend from Derry launched their kayaks at an unapproved location near the Stewarton rapids at 3 p.m. Saturday. Neither had whitewater rafting experience, and neither was wearing a life jacket, Juran said. The kayaks the men used are flat-bottomed and are not designed for whitewater rafting, Juran said.
The Derry man fell out of his kayak but was able to pull himself out of the water to safety. He saw his kayak float downriver, along with his friend. Juran said the Derry man then went to his vehicle and waited a few hours because he believed his friend would stick to their plan, kayak down the river to Connellsville where they had left a second vehicle parked, and return to get him.
About 8 p.m., the Derry man walked to a nearby house to call authorities. Firefighters, Fayette EMS and state police searched on land and from two helicopters. The search was called off at 1:30 a.m. because of heavy fog, Juran said.
"(Sunday) night, we recovered both kayaks, a paddle and their PFDs (personal flotation devices)," Juran said. A bag that contained both men's wallets and identification cards also was found. "Sunday's search was productive," Juran said. "We found several clues."
Three members of the South Connellsville Fire Department had a scary moment during the search on Sunday. When they put their boat into the water about 2 p.m., the motor shut off and wouldn't restart, fire Chief Steve Helms said. The boat headed into rougher water and flipped over. The three men, all wearing life jackets, hung on to the overturned boat until they could pull themselves from the swift water. "The one guy was able to grab a limb of a tree and pull himself in ... and one of the other guys pushed off a rock," Helms said. "With their experience, they were able to get to the shore rather than the middle of the river." The contents of the boat -- portable radios, oars and other items -- were lost.
The three men were treated at Highlands Hospital in Connellsville and released, Helms said. "They're lucky," he added. "The contents can be replaced. Lives can't.
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