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Body of W.Va. man snorkeling near Puerto Rico found

April 01, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The body of a Falling Waters, W.Va., man who was swept away by a riptide Tuesday while snorkeling in Puerto Rico was found Thursday morning, according to the Coast Guard.

Authorities searched for two days for Jim Hawvermale, who was snorkeling with three other people about 50 yards off the northeast shore of Puerto Rico near the city of Fajardo when he was caught in a strong current and taken out to sea, the Coast Guard said.

A local police maritime unit found Hawvermale's body Thursday morning at Playa Escondida, or "Hidden Beach," a secluded area known for strong currents and a large reef line, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard, police in Puerto Rico and other emergency personnel conducted 14 search patterns over a 155-square-nautical-mile area using divers, helicopters, a Coast Guard cutter and small boats, Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said.

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The search began Tuesday shortly after Hawvermale, 50, was reported missing. The search was called off Wednesday night.

Castrodad said Hawvermale and the others were snorkeling at Playa Escondida.

"People are encouraged not to go swimming there," he said.

Castrodad said Hawvermale was the third person to be carried away by a riptide in Puerto Rico in the past week.

Hawvermale, who worked as a certified registered nurse practitioner in Hagerstown, was remembered Thursday as a decent person who would go out of his way to help friends and neighbors.

Frances Spiker, who owns a home across the street from the Hawvermale residence on Chesley Drive, said she heard the news that Hawvermale had gone missing from a neighbor Thursday afternoon.

"I'm shocked and sad," she said. "He was a very nice guy. You couldn't ask for a better neighbor."

Spiker said Hawvermale was the treasurer of their homeowners' association and often helped his neighbors shovel snow.

"Whatever he could do, he did," she said.

Hawvermale worked at Robinwood Medical Center in the offices of Newman, Wooster, Kass, Bradford, McCormack & Hurwitz. A representative of the practice declined to comment for this story.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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