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Funkstown man apparently drowned while kayaking

May 03, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- The body of a 22-year-old Funkstown man who apparently drowned Saturday while kayaking in the Shenandoah River was found Monday night, police said.

Ryan Shulz's body was found about one mile upstream from Shannondale Springs at 7:18 p.m. by members of Independent Fire Co.'s water rescue team, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ron Fletcher said.

Shulz was reported missing about 3:15 p.m. Monday by his parents, who contacted the Harpers Ferry Police Department and provided a description of what vehicle he was driving, Fletcher said. His father last talked with him Saturday, police said.

Shulz's vehicle was spotted Saturday parked along John Rissler Road about one-half mile from W.Va. 9, Fletcher said.

It was reported suspicious, but the investigating deputy, after seeing rafting-related items in the vehicle, believed that the boater would return to the vehicle, Fletcher said.

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"At that time, we didn't know anyone was missing," Fletcher said.

Boaters on Saturday found some of Shulz's belongings and his kayak in and along the river, Fletcher said.

Shulz last talked with his father at about 9 a.m. Saturday while paddling up the river, Fletcher said.

Shulz was kayaking alone, but his parents told police he had boating experience, Fletcher said.

"The river has no conscience," Jefferson County Sheriff Robert "Bobby" Shirley said. "We were hoping for a different outcome."

Shirley said Shulz's parents had traveled to Jefferson County and were told by police that their son had died.

"It was a tough situation," Shirley said.

An autopsy will be conducted by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Center, Fletcher said.

Maryland State Police helicopters assisted emergency personnel from Independent, Citizens Fire Co. and Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Department in the search, Shirley said.

Editor's note: This story was edited May 4, 2010 to correct errors.

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