Monday, April 21, 2014

Police ID boater reported to have fallen into the Delaware

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014

The search for a boater who slipped below the surface of the Delaware River on Friday afternoon is now considered a recovery mission, with the U.S. Coast Guard is joining marine units from Bucks, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
John J. Poltonowicz, 49, of Bristol, reportedly fell overboard around 1 p.m. not far from the Second Avenue boat ramp at Neshaminy State Park in the Croydon section of Bristol Township. New Jersey State Police identified the man Saturday night.
Witnesses say Poltonowicz was jumping wakes caused by a northbound tugboat when he lost his balance and fell from the boat into the murky water, Bristol Township police’s acting Chief John Godzieba said.
Croydon Fire Co. Chief Tom Tryon said Saturday his firefighters and boats from Croydon and several other companies spent three hours searching for Poltonowicz.
Marine units search for missing boater on Delaware
“We called it off about 5:30 p.m. Friday and went out early Saturday. The state police were using sonar to assist us,” the chief said.
Trooper Jeffrey Flynn of the New Jersey State Police said authorities will not resume using sonar or undertake any further dive missions to locate Poltonowicz.
He said patrols will continue to look for the man on their routine patrols of the river.
Tryon added firefighters were scheduled to go out Saturday night, but will not search on Easter Sunday.
Witnesses said the man was not wearing a personal flotation device. No one else was on the boat.
The unmanned motorboat circled in the river for about 20 minutes before it ran out of gas, Godzieba said. The New Jersey State Police Marine Unit took custody of the boat, he said.
Marine rescue and recovery units from Lower Southampton, Croydon and Philadelphia participated in the search, but divers were not put into the water because of swift currents.
The search area was described as spanning the river between the Second and Fourth avenue boat ramps in the state park.
The area of the river where Poltonowicz is believed to have gone overboard is near a channel that is 45-feet deep, Godzieba said.
Witnesses who were fishing nearby described the missing man as white, about 250 pounds and wearing tan shorts, Godzieba said.

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