SOUTH BUFFALO TOWNSHIP, Pa. - The body of a jet skier who went missing over the weekend was pulled from the Allegheny River in Gilpin Township Wednesday.
Channel 11’s Joe Holden reported the body was found downstream from where the 40-year-old Penn Hills man went missing Sunday afternoon.
Thomas Duane Uzmack disappeared about mile upriver from Murphy's Bottom, north of Freeport.
Officials said the incident happened around 4 p.m. Sunday in Buffalo Township, Armstrong County, while family and friends were celebrating Uzmack’s birthday.
Investigators said Uzmack was taking his nephew on a ride on his jet ski when a turn forced them both into the water.
Both were wearing life jackets, however firefighters said Uzmack, an avid swimmer, did not have his jacket properly fastened.
The teen was pulled to safety, but Uzmack was not.
“When you wear protective gear, it's to save your life. If it has buckles, buckle it. If it has snaps, snap it.
You know, keep it on,” said Sheriff Bill Rupert.
Randy Brozenick, South Buffalo fire chief, said Uzmack's body was spotted by Army Corps of Engineers employees performing routine duties on a boat just upriver from the Schenley Marina in Gilpin Township. They called 911 and Freeport Borough dispatched a rescue boat, which recovered the body.
“I looked on the inside of the boats, but I didn’t look on the outside. That’s where they found the body,” said Jerry Ashworth, owner of Schenley Marina. “I just had a feeling that there was a possibility that things come down river into the marina side.”
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Brozenick said a toxicology screen also will be performed.
Brozenick praised the rescue personnel who assisted in the search for Uzmack over the past four days.
“We had rescue personnel from three counties coming in and donating their time for the search. The scope was tremendous. The biggest relief was providing closure for the family,” Brozenick said.
Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.
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