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Searchers recover body of missing boater

| June 7, 2022
Searchers have located the body of 25-year-old Keith Schlabach of the Baltic area, who disappeared Saturday morning following a boating mishap on the Tuscarawas River. (WJER Radio)

PORT WASHINGTON (WJER) (June 7, 2022) – Sheriff Orvis Campbell is crediting the tireless efforts of searchers and the rainy weather this morning for the recovery of a missing boater’s body from the Tuscarawas River.

Campbell says the search team found the body of a man they believe is 25-year-old Keith Schlabach around 9:30 this morning within eyesight of their base and not far from where the canoe he and his friend were traveling in capsized Saturday morning.

“It’s my understanding that there was some interest from a search dog in that area, but the search and rescue teams had passed that same area that he was located this morning so many times that the GPS recorder that shows their route had passed through so many times that you couldn’t even see the river under the GPS path.”

Campbell says a little rain can sometimes be more effective than even the most advanced technology in these types of situations.

“Those kind of things like raising of the water levels and water speed picking up, those can also unlodge a body and move a body, so those type of weather occurrences make it of interest to be out there if you’re able to and be safe, and they were just very, very committed.”

He says the clothing on the body matched the description provided by the other man in the canoe, who called 911 after the boat flipped over and he lost sight of Schlabach around 8:30 am Saturday near Fillman’s Bottom Road. Campbell says the coroner’s office will release the body to family after making a formal identification and completing its portion of the investigation.

“And we’re just very happy that the family will get some closure. This young man is from an Amish family who has very specific beliefs and traditions when it comes to death and burial, and this will give them an opportunity to observe those and put their loved one to peace the way they wanted to.”

Campbell says there’s no indication his death was anything other than an unfortunate accident and that neither man was wearing a life jacket.

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