Lehigh River canoeing victim's family reacts to death
Updated On: Jun 24 2013 05:00:47 AM CDT
The coroner now confirms that a body found Friday night in the Lehigh River was a canoeist who went missing a week earlier.
Jeff LaCava's family tells 69 News that he was an experienced boater who knew the river well.
Longtime girlfriend Valerie Jenkins just lost the love of her life.
"I'll never be able to hold him again," she said. "I'll never see him walk through the door. He won't walk the girls down the aisle."
Jenkins and LaCava were together for 25 years. Last weekend, LaCava's canoe overturned on the Lehigh River near his home in Northampton.
"The witnesses did say that he did go over the falls the correct way," said Jenkins. "He just capsized after it."
After a week-long search, boaters found LaCava's body Friday night, several miles downstream near the Tilghman Street Bridge in Allentown.
"Longest week of my life," said Jenkins.
LaCava was a former Coast Guardsman and an expert canoeist, according to his family.
"He liked to go on the canoe and paddle," said his young son, Chase.
Jenkins added: "He took a canoe down the Lehigh Gorge, which I thought he was insane then."
Unfortunately for LaCava's family, his death is the latest in a series of tragedies they have faced.
"He had just started work three weeks ago," said Jenkins. "He was a construction worker. The market started going down for construction, so his business failed, and we could no longer pay our rent and we lost our home."
LaCava and Jenkins have lived with relatives since then, but were hoping to finally get their own home again. Now, she and their four children aren't sure how they're going to pay for his funeral.
"It's a relief that they found him," said Jenkins. "I just wish it would have been any other way."
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2 Lynn women killed in accident on Kings Highway
Man says police have often mistaken him for Eric Frein
Canada PM: Soldier slain 'in cold blood'
Vacation turns to tragedy when 3-year-old girl is killed
Bucks County man killed in crash on I-78 East in Upper Saucon
Divers go underwater to map submerged trains
Police: Man posing as concert promoter targets retirement community
Boy, 16, charged with attempted homicide in stabbing
Inferno damage at least $12M; collapse potential examined
School bus crash sends 4 students to hospitals