UPDATED: Autopsy planned for body found in river

By Jerry Lynott [email protected]

			
				                                A Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department water rescue boat transports the body back to the boat launch at Nesbitt Park.
                                 Kevin Carroll | Times Leader

A Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department water rescue boat transports the body back to the boat launch at Nesbitt Park.

Kevin Carroll | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Police are investigating the death of an unidentified person whose body was found in the Susquehanna River Wednesday afternoon.

The body could be seen from the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Pierce Street near an island in the middle of the river. It was removed from the water around 3:45 p.m. by police and transported downstream by boat to the launch area at Nesbitt Park in Kingston.

The Luzerne County Coroner Frank Hacken said an autopsy has been scheduled for Thursday to be done by Dr. Gary Ross to determine the cause and manner of death.

Wilkes-Barre City Police Chief Joseph Coffay responded to the emergency dispatch around 1 p.m. for a body in the river and joined other law enforcement and fire department personnel on the bridge.

“Right now all we have is a body and we’re doing a recovery and then it depends on the autopsy,” Coffay told reporters.

At the time Coffay said he did not know if the person was a male or female. Coffay said the Pennsylvania State Police Forensic Services Unit and the coroner’s office had been contacted . They later arrived at the bridge. A state police helicopter also circled overhead to photograph the scene.

Police had no leads on the identification and determined a boat located upstream under a bridge for the Cross Valley Expressway was not connected to the body. The boat belonged to a construction company working on the bridge.

“We’ve checked into missing persons. We haven’t found any information that might lead to the identification. We won’t know more until the body is recovered and an autopsy performed,” Coffay said.

The Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department used its water rescue boat to transport Chief Deputy Coroner Joseph Jacobs and state and city police to the island directly across from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.

The body was located in shallow water approximately 20 feet from the eastern shore of the island. Police put on boots to wade into the water, examine the corpse, place it in a body bag and lift it onto the boat for the short trip downstream to the launch area.