The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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November 4, 2013

Friends find body of missing canoeist

NEW HAMBURG — 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 found him.

An autopsy will be done today in Erie County, McGonigle said.

Metz was found in 6 to 8 feet of water by the friends, who kept looking for him after authorities called off the search until today, 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 found Metz.

“I’m glad they found him and the case for the family is closed,” Steele said.

Although canoeing and kayaking in the river is popular and can be fun, Steele said it’s 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 brought rescuers and equipment looking for Metz.

Firefighters and police, as well as relatives and friends, searched until dark both Wednesday and Thursday without finding the missing man.

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.”

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