Saturday, May 28, 2022

Body recovered from James River two months after boaters went missing

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia State Police continue the search for missing boaters Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.)
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia State Police continue the search for missing boaters Thursday morning. (Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.)

A body was recovered from the James River in Isle of Wight County Sunday, nearly two months after two boaters went missing while crossing the river during a snowstorm.

The body’s identity has not been confirmed, but a medical examiner has picked it up and will make that determination, according to Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries spokesman Lee Walker.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission was the first agency to respond to a report of a body in the river Sunday afternoon, Walker said.

The VDGIF responded to the scene shortly after the VMRC arrived.

Englehart and Savage, who are from Charles City County and Henrico County, respectively, went out on the river Jan. 3 in a 16-foot Jon boat to work on a waterfowl blind they had near Grays Creek in Surry County.

The men disappeared late that night as a snowstorm hit eastern Virginia, dropping five to ten inches of snow and creating two-foot waves on the James. The storm was accompanied by below-freezing temperatures.

Savage and Englehart were both reported missing the following afternoon.

During the initial search Jan. 4 and 5, rescue crews found the 16-foot boat washed up on Hog Island, according to Petty Officer 3rd Class Corinne Zilnicki, spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Freezing temperatures forced officials to call off the search Jan. 5 after ice formed on the river.

The Virginia State Police and VDGIF resumed the search Jan. 6.

VDGIF conservation police officers have been routinely looking for the men for two months. Other agencies, including the National Park Service, Surry County Sheriff’s Office James City County Police have also been searching.

The U.S. Coast Guard was not involved in Sunday’s recovery of the body, although it was involved in the initial search in January, Petty Officer 3rd Class Corinne Zilnicki said.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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