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Submersible sonar joins search for Ligonier Valley grad missing in reservoir

Jeff Himler
| Friday, July 13, 2018, 12:09 a.m.
Ligonier Valley running back Joey Dubics (23) gets into the open field for 27 yards and a first down during the second quarter of the PIAA District 6 Class AA championship game against Bishop McCort on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, at Mansion Park in Altoona. Ligonier Valley leads 21-0 at halftime.
Tribune-Review
Ligonier Valley running back Joey Dubics (23) gets into the open field for 27 yards and a first down during the second quarter of the PIAA District 6 Class AA championship game against Bishop McCort on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, at Mansion Park in Altoona. Ligonier Valley leads 21-0 at halftime.

Emergency crews returned to Somerset County’s Quemahoning Reservoir on Friday for a fifth day of searching for recent Ligonier Valley High School graduate Joey Dubics, who went missing while paddleboarding Monday at the reservoir.

Among the returning search teams may be The Jackson and East Taylor Townships Dive Rescue Team of Cambria County, manning a small submersible device that helped probe the deepest areas of the reservoir on Thursday.

Led by the Scalp Level-Paint Fire Department, a Shanksville Fire Department dive team and other emergency and fire units from Jerome and Conemaugh Township were dispatched to the reservoir at 7 a.m. Thursday to resume the search, along with drones and a dog team, according to a Somerset County 911 supervisor.

The Cambria County dive rescue team arrived to assist at about 4 p.m. and continued its efforts until the search broke off for the day, at about 9 p.m., said Tom Buchan, a dive captain with the team.

The team’s remotely operated device has video capability and a forward-looking sonar to scan for objects in zero-visibility water, Buchan said.

“We can scan about 300 feet in front of the sonar,” Buchan said. “We were given the task to investigate the deep water channel in the reservoir, looking for possible targets,” a body or other object of interest.

Two objects the device detected turned out to be a large rock and part of a tree, Buchan said. He said he hopes the volunteer team will be able to return Friday to help continue the search.

Buchan noted the water is deepest in the channel of the river that was dammed to create the reservoir.

The reservoir is north of Route 30 and east of Route 219, near Hollsopple.

Divers descended up to 100 feet, according to Scalp Level-Paint Deputy Fire Chief David Boyer. In deeper levels, divers had to pause to decompress when they returned to the surface, he said.

Dubics, 18, went missing shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, according to a 911 supervisor.

George McFarland, head of a Greensburg dive team that previously joined in the search, said Dubics was out on the water with a group of friends. He was on a paddleboard when he dropped his hat and sunglasses. He dove in after them, surfaced once for air, dove again and never resurfaced, McFarland said.

State police are investigating.

Dubics was a running back and linebacker with the Ligonier Valley football program and was captain of the Rams team that won consecutive PIAA District 6 Class 2A titles.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news. Staff writer Jacob Tierney contributed to this report.

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