The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 1, 2013

Missing boater identified; family keeping up search

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

SANDY LAKE — The brother of a 29-year-old Sandy Lake man who has been missing since his canoe capsized early Friday morning said the family won’t give up looking because “we can’t leave him out here alone.”

Mike Mathieson, the older brother of Jason Mathieson, said his younger brother wasn’t a very good swimmer and friends who were with him when the boat flipped over told family Jason Mathieson said he couldn’t make it back to shore.

Divers and search and rescue crew teams spent the weekend looking for his body, but as of Monday night, nothing has been found. Stoneboro Fire Chief Rick Reither was not available for comment Monday night, but family members said they have brought campers and canoes and kayaks to Sandy Lake and plan to keep looking.

“We’ve hit the area pretty hard where the search and rescue dogs thought they found something. We’ve been over it four or five times now, but we haven’t found him,” Mathieson said.

The victim was with two friends when he stood up in the boat about 5 a.m. Friday morning and it capsized. “They thought they could see the shore, but it turns out it was weeds they saw,” his brother said. The two others in the boat, Nicki Heister and Jason Greggs, both friends of the family, said the three stayed together in the water “for a while” when they decided to let go of the boat and split up and get help,” Mathieson said.

“Nicki said my brother told her he couldn’t make it anymore, that he was just wore out. She said he was floating face down in the water when she went back to him, but he started taking her down with him,” he added.

The family would welcome any volunteer divers or anyone with a boat and a camera that can help them look.

Reither said earlier Monday that the official search was suspended unless more specific information about where the boat tipped over can be provided.

Mathieson described his brother as a “very outgoing kind of guy” who liked to work on cars. He served in the pit crew for Mathieson’s modified race car at the Mercer Raceway Park for 11 years and more recently put together a demolition derby car.

“We’re going to go race it for him in a couple weeks. He was into derby cars,” he said.

Jason’s three children – ages 11, 9, 5 – are with family and the two oldest are aware that he may have drowned, he added. The victim’s parents, Cindy Rebel and Pete Mathieson, are also at the scene.

“We have hope until we see a body,” he added.

Anyone willing to help with the search can contact Mathieson at 724-977-4866.