MONTAGUE, NJ – The family of a missing fisherman, whose hometown is Port Jervis, NY, was notified by police Monday evening that the body of their loved one was located late that afternoon.
The body of 47-year-old William Van Dyke, of York, PA, formerly Port Jervis, was found in the Delaware River, near Delaware Valley High School in Pennsylvania and the New Jersey shore of Mashipacong Island.
According to New York State Police and other investigative sources, Van Dyke’s body was spotted by a New York State Police helicopter on the afternoon of Monday, September19. It was recovered and released to the Morris County Medical Examiner’s office at Morristown Hospital in New Jersey Monday evening.
Both New York and New Jersey State Police as well as New Jersey Medical Examiner staff were on scene at wooded river access areas off River Road in Montague.
Some of those officials went to Mashipacong Island Monday where they investigated, recovered, identified, and were able to notify the family that their missing loved one had been found.
Van Dyke went missing when he and a lifelong 49-year-old friend and fellow Port Jervis High School Class of 1992 graduate launched a new Jon boat belonging to Van Dyke on the morning of September 8. The two left from #2 Bridge in the Town of Deerpark. While making their way upriver to a calm fishing spot with which they were familiar, their boat capsized near Cherry Island. All of their supplies, including life jackets, were carried downriver.
While the two were able to make it onto nearby mid-river Cherry Island, unseasonably cold water and air temperatures that morning, combined with having no supplies, caused the two to make a mutual plan, which quickly became tragic, to re-enter the river and swim to a visible New York shore.
The friend was able to get through strong current encountered by the two and make it to land. Realizing that Van Dyke was treading water near the island and not moving as he himself was struggling to survive, the friend pleaded for him to grab a branch, swim to the island, or continue to shore. Van Dyke did not respond, and the friend was unable to physically reach him.
Once on shore, this friend’s call for help was among others that had spotted the situation and reached out to emergency responders. However, by the time responders were able to promptly arrive, Van Dyke was no longer visible.
A search by multiple agencies went on for days, including daily searches on long stretches of the river and both shorelines by National Park Service rangers. Monday’s discovery concluded 12 days of a diligent search and a vigil kept by family and friends of Van Dyke.
Reached today by telephone, a member of Van Dyke’s family said his wife and two children have remained in Port Jervis with other family members and friends during the ordeal.
Funeral arrangements are being made in Port Jervis.