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Family praying for missing boater, Jose Suarez, to be found

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 18 2013 04:28:58 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2013 07:40:58 AM CDT

Crews continued to scour the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County on Wednesday in search of a Berks County man who went missing over the weekend.

READING, Pa. -

Crews continued to scour the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County on Wednesday in search of a Berks County man who went missing over the weekend.

Jose Suarez went under Saturday morning after his boat capsized during a fishing trip with his girlfriend near Jack's Island in Conestoga Twp., Lancaster Co.

Suarez's family is heartbroken, and his children have flown in from Florida and Chicago. 

"I'm not leaving until I get him out of that water," said Jose Suarez, the victim's son, who found out about his dad's accident on his birthday.

The family is in agony, and they're desperate for closure after four painstaking days. Suarez's four children are holding each other tight.

"We're hoping. We still have some faith that maybe he ended up somewhere," said Maria Gonzalez, Suarez's daughter, who flew in from Orlando.

Suarez's children have been at the river's edge every day, praying his body surfaces, but as each second passes, they said they feel even more helpless.

"He could be 60 feet right in front of us and we can't get to him. It's torture," said Suarez's son.

Suarez, 57, of Exeter Township, was fishing with his girlfriend, Bertha Castro, of Reading. A relaxing day on the water turned tragic when their boat started filling with water.

Family members believe the boat's plug popped open. Castro can't swim, and said her boyfriend fought until the end to save her life.

"For the entire time, he didn't let me go. He hung onto my jacket and I did the same with him," Castro said, as she fought back tears in her Reading apartment Wednesday.

"He would push her up, come up for some air, go back down and hold her back up, and I guess the last time a whirlpool got him and took him under," said Suarez.

Another fisherman managed to pull Bertha out of the cold water. Crews have scoured the shoreline and combed the surface for Suarez, but the water's depth and swiftness have made it too dangerous for divers.

"We're not leaving here until he is out, so I'm hoping somehow someway someone can please help us," said Suarez.

The Conestoga Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept. volunteers said they will continue their search and plan to start using LED lights Thursday night.