Rescue crews called off a search of the Shenango River for a 47-year-old man missing Wednesday evening after his canoe capsized shortly after 6 p.m. near the Hamburg bridge in Delaware Township. Crews will resume the search at 9:30 a.m. today. Two other people in the light blue canoe were not injured and were able to get to shore and called 911.
Transfer Fire Chief Phil Steele, who said he didn’t know the man’s name, described him as an outdoorsman-type. He said crews used scuba teams, jet ski patrols, a hovercraft, ATVs and a helicopter to search the water and both sides of the shoreline south from the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge to Hamburg Bridge. The missing man’s nephew, who declined to give his name, said his uncle was a skilled boater who frequently canoed that route. “The water at best is 50 degrees and about halfway down it gets really deep. Once a canoe capsizes, hypothermia sets in real quick,” he said.
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, Pa. —
SHARON — The body of a Transfer man whose canoe capsized Wednesday in the Shenango River was found Sunday morning about 300 feet from where the accident happened, authorities said.
Eric Metz, 47, of 504 Crestview Drive, was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m. by Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle.
McGonigle said three of Metz’s friends had found him.
An autopsy was to be done in Erie County, McGonigle said.
Metz was found in 6 to 8 feet of water by the friends, who had kept looking for him after authorities called off the search until Monday, when it was to resume, Transfer Fire Chief Phil Steele said.
The friends were dragging the river with a hook and on the second throw snagged Metz’s clothing, Steele said.
The body was found in an area that professional searchers had pored over Wednesday and Thursday, using divers, dogs and sonar, Steele said.
“The river (current) was fast,” he said. “It was not clean.”
Visibility was less than a foot and Steele said it was amazing the friends had found Metz.
“I’m glad they found him and the case for the family is closed.”
Although canoeing and kayaking in the river is popular and can be fun, Steele said, it is vital to wear a life jacket.
“It’s really dangerous,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff to get caught on. It’s treacherous.”
The accident just before 6 p.m. Wednesday near New Hamburg drew rescuers and equipment looking for Metz.
Firefighters and police, as well as relatives and friends, searched until dark both Wednesday and Thursday.
Steele described Metz as an outdoorsman who was familiar with the river and who had taken his daughter and ex-wife canoeing during the warm late afternoon.
“It capsized about a quarter-mile north of Hamburg bridge,” Steele said. “The daughter and the dad pushed the mother onto the bank after the canoe flipped over. Then the dad pushed the daughter onto the bank but he didn’t make it out himself. He went down and never came back up.”