He was reporting missing after he went out kayaking on Sunday afternoon.
Harpers Ferry, VW (KM) Authorities recovered the body of a Frederick, Md. man from the Potomac River early Monday morning.
Jason Wayne Downs, 44, was visiting with his family in Harpers Ferry, WV when he decided to go kayaking. After about two hours, family members became concerned because they had not heard from him and it was getting dark, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson.
Relatives called 911 at around 9:00 PM and reported Downs missing, she says. “At that point, Natural Resources Police Officers, units from Washington County Fire and Rescue, and Maryland State Police helicopter searched the area,” says Thomson.
At 10:00 PM, about three-quarters of a mile downstream from the family dock, Thomson says searchers found a kayak and a paddle. “Natural Resources Police Officers located the victim’s body about seven-feet off the family dock in Harpers Ferry in about three to four feet of water,” she says. “That body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and a toxicology.”
Thomson says the body was located at around 3:30 AM on Monday. She says the darkness made the search very difficult. “We had some storms roll through the area. They were sporadic and spotty. They caused water levels to rise. It was very slow going,” she says.
Downs was not wearing a life jacket, which is what Natural Resources Police strongly encourage everyone to wear when they go out on the water. “You may be the best swimmer in the world. You can be Michael Phelps. But if you hit your head or you become incapacitated in some way, you’re not going to be able to help yourself. That’s what a life jacket does. It helps you stay afloat until you can get help,” says Thomson.
She says this is the ninth boating fatality in Maryland this year. In those other incidents, Thomson says, none of those victims was wearing a life jacket.