CONEWANGO - A nearly week-long search came to an end early Friday afternoon when officials recovered the body of a missing kayaker from the Allegheny River.
Terry Carlson, Glade Volunteer Fire Department chief, said crews found the body of Jacob Maynard at 12:33 p.m. He was in the dredge area of the river in the Starbrick area.
Maynard, 32, from Jamestown, had been missing in the river since his kayak tipped over at about 5:30 p.m. last Saturday. Maynard's brother, Jason, also had his kayak overturn at the same time, but survived.
Warren County Coroner Jerry Borden confirmed Friday afternoon that the recovered body was Maynard. He ruled cause of death as asphyxiation by drowning.
Jack Young of Warren said Maynard was found about 150 yards upstream from the buoy that searchers had initially placed in the river.
His son, Justin Young, told The Post-Journal that recovery of the body occurred "directly across from the house" on the dead-end portion of River Road.
"A rescue boat went downstream and a few minutes later something came up out of the water," Justin Young said, adding that he had been scanning the river's surface with his binoculars.
He and his father got the attention of searchers in one of the boats who went back upstream to check. "He started waving his arms" to acknowledge it was a body, Justin Young said.
Todd Lake, Warren County public safety director, said someone called 911 after seeing the body. Workers planned to take Maynard's body to Warren General Hospital, he said, and the coroner will determine if an autopsy is needed.
"Last night, command decided it was time for a massive search before the holiday weekend," Lake said.
Scott Grahn of the Pennsylvania Region 13 Southwest Task Force said crews from Somerset, Westmoreland, Cambria, Allegheny and Armstrong counties all assisted. They provided any operations that were requested, he said, and worked in conjunction with local agencies.
"Especially going on four or five days, it's easier for families and responders," Grahn said.
The task force assets were called in because crews from Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and McKean counties were working on the Miller case in the Allegheny Reservoir, Lake said, and calling in Erie and Crawford counties would have left no other crews in the area. Ultimately, Grahn said emergency personnel are responsible for their own counties.
It took a multitude of hours, Carlson said, with Glade on the scene Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Lake noted members of Starbrick VFD were there every night.
Other crews who responded included Red Cross, Department of Public Safety, Pennsylvania State Police, Conewango Township Police, Warren County Coroner, state Fish and Boat Commission, Pleasant VFD, Youngsville VFD, North Warren VFD, Clarendon VFD, Northwest Pennsylvania K-9 Search and Rescue, Cornplanter K-9 Search and Rescue, McKean County Dive Team and Crawford County Dive Team.
In the wake of the tragedy, Maynard's mother wanted to express her gratitude to those who participated in the search.
"Our heartfelt appreciation to everyone," Debbie Zogrephos said. "I want everyone to know how much their help, love, and compassion has meant to our family."
"Everybody took time out of their lives and away from their families to be here for my family, how unselfish and loving that is," she said. "I will forever be grateful."
In addition to Conewango Township and state police, Starbrick, Glade and other volunteer fire departments, state agencies, and property owners and other citizens who helped with the search, Zogrephos thanked Coroner Jerry Borden. "The coroner prayed with us and cried with us," she said. "God has just put incredible people into our path."
"I thank everyone, and Jacob would, too," she said.