Body found in creek

June 19, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Friends of a man who disappeared Sunday in the waters of Antietam Creek, equipped with little more than the will to find Mark Alan Fry's body, succeeded Wednesday.

"We've all pretty much been here since Monday. We figured he was coming home today," said Jason Haupt, 29, of Cearfoss.

Haupt was one of the men who helped pull Fry's body from a twisted logjam spanning the creek.

Members of the group began their own search after a third official search proved fruitless earlier Wednesday.

Fry, 35, of Hagerstown, had gone swimming with a friend in the creek Sunday. His friend made it to shore, but Fry did not resurface after he was seen floating down the creek at a dam near the Creekside Inn on Security Road, police said.


Divers searched the water Sunday night and attempted to resume their search Monday afternoon, but decided it was too risky to continue searching underwater.

Earlier Wednesday, 20 cadets from the Western Maryland Police Academy searched the banks of the creek on foot, but divers were not called because creek levels remained dangerous, police said.

A group of Fry's friends took up the search, said Jeremy Shaffer, 17. The group focused on the logjam a few hundred yards down the creek.

The men brought ropes, machetes and saws. One of the men who crawled atop the heap felt below the surface and thought he found Fry's body, Shaffer said.

"And then we were trying to pull him out," Shaffer said.

Police and firefighters gathered while the men continued working.

"After an hour, that was it, pulled him out," Shaffer said.

Fry worked for Shaffer's father, Dan Shaffer, the owner of Olde Towne Masonry in Rohrersville.

Jason Smallwood, 18, of Crystal Falls, said he had known Fry as a dart-thrower and a family friend. He came to the creek shore after returning from a weekend at the beach.

"It hurts. It's upsetting," Smallwood said. But finding Fry's body would help bring closure, Smallwood said.

"It's gonna help everybody. You can't really get over grieving when you don't know where he's at, you know?" Smallwood said.

Fry's body was taken to the Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore to determine the exact cause of death, said Sgt. Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Mike Swomley, Fry's roommate, said Monday the two had moved to Foxwood Apartments on Robinwood Drive about a year ago, and said he had worked with him in Frederick, Md., as well.

Shelly Fry, 33, Fry's wife, and her son, Robert, were at the shore of the creek Wednesday. She said it didn't surprise her that his friends gathered to resolve the crisis.

"He had the best sense of humor out of anybody I've ever known. ... Mark had tons of friends and he still had friends he had in high school. ... He was just very easy-going and everybody just liked him very much," Shelly Fry said.

While the couple had been separated, she said they had a son, Robert, together and kept in touch.

She said the two had dinner Saturday night. When she found out he was missing, "I just prayed and prayed," she said.

"I know that everything happens for a reason. ... He's never going to leave me," Shelly Fry said.

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