Body found in Delaware River identified as missing man - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Body found in Delaware River identified as missing man

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Herald Staff report

FRENCHTOWN — A body found in the Delaware River near Frenchtown on Tuesday has been positively identified as Gary West, 38, of Summit, who disappeared Saturday, June 29, while riding an innertube in the river near Knowlton, more than 35 miles upstream.

State Police Spokesman Brian Polite reading from a report issued Friday said that a medical examination by the Hunterdon County Medical Examiners Office and comparison of dental records led to identification of the body. The cause of death is listed as “acute asphyxiation due to drowning” and the incident has been determined to be accidental, Polite said.

West was with a group of people and riding on the same tube as his 14-year-old daughter when it overturned on June 29, at 1:40 p.m. The girl, who was wearing a personal flotation device, managed to make it to shore while West, who was not wearing a PFD, disappeared beneath the water.

Because of the high water and the strong currents, police were able to spend only a short time looking for the body. Teams searched until dusk on June 29 and returned to the river early June 30, searching until about 2 p.m.

Monday’s search was cut short after about an hour due to dangerous weather conditions.

On Tuesday, someone walking along the shore of the river in Frenchtown spotted the body at about 12:53 p.m.

John J. Donahue, superintendent of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, announced Wednesday that swimming is being prohibited in the river within park boundaries until the river level drops to a safer level, expected some time next week. On Friday, the river level was at about 8.3 feet at Montague, according to the National Weather Service.

The river normally is measured at between 5 and 6 feet at the Montague station, but was at 10.3 feet Wednesday afternoon and has been as high as 12.5 feet because of heavy rains that have fallen over the region.

Under park guidelines, when the river level measured at Montague is at 8 feet or higher, swimming is prohibited and PFDs are required to be worn by all boaters.

Lifeguards will be on duty at the Milford, Smithfield and Turtle beaches, which are closed to swimming, but wading in the water is allowed, Donahue said.

The New Jersey State Police, Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and the medical examiner are investigating.

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