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Volunteers used grid to find man's body in river

July 25, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Volunteer divers with Brass Anchor Scuba Center in Frederick, Md., found the body of a 19-year-old Hagerstown man in the Potomac River by searching a grid using anchored ropes called jackstays, the business's owner said Monday.

Jason Leon Line was found at 3:36 p.m. Friday "laying right on the river bottom," closer to the West Virginia shore than where dogs had indicated they smelled the scent of a dead body, Brass Anchor owner Terry Brady said.

Line and two others intended to swim from the Maryland banks off Big Slackwater to the West Virginia banks Wednesday about 6:30 p.m., Maryland Natural Resources Police Spokesman Sgt. Ken Turner said. When the others - another young man and a woman - made it to the other side, they discovered their friend didn't make it, Turner said.

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Divemaster James Glenz was "right beside" Brady when he found Line "about 24 feet" down from the surface, he said. Natural Resources Police divers brought Line's body to the surface, Brady said.

"We had to really map it out to find him," Glenz said.

Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co. in Ranson, W.Va., said Monday that he called on Brady for help because he "exhausted" his divers, who come from three fire companies in Jefferson County.

"Brass Anchor said, 'Let's do one more dive,'" which is when they found Line's body, Smith said.

Six volunteers with Brass Anchor Scuba Center arrived at Big Slackwater off Dam No. 4 Road and "systematically using lines and grids," dropped jackstays, which are anchored ropes 75 feet to 100 feet long, into the river for the search, he said.

"It's a lot of swimming," said Brady, who spent three hours underwater Friday.

He said he could see about five feet in front of him, but if any of the dirt at the bottom was stirred, he couldn't see much of anything closer to the river bottom.

Glenz said the method the divers used to find Line's body is a common one. Divers, in tandem, swim the dropped line looking for items.

Once they've reached the end of the jackstay, they move it in the direction of the search, Glenz said.

He said that divers swim about 100 feet, move 5 feet, swim back 100 feet, move 5 feet and repeat the pattern for the width of the river.

Brady said the cadaver dogs point to a general direction and "do a good job," but they are not as precise as searching the river using a grid.

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