Ligonier Valley graduate missing at Quemahoning Reservoir

HOLLSOPPLE – A multi-agency search was conducted Monday for a Ligonier Valley graduate who apparently disappeared in the Quemahoning Reservoir earlier that day.

The 18-year-old male was apparently paddleboarding with two young women when he went under the water, prompting a call to 911 that brought in dive teams from Somerset and Westmoreland counties, Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Nathan Svencer said.

The trio paddled from the Quemahoning Family Recreation Area’s launch to the opposite side of the 877-acre lake, Svencer said.

The missing man was last spotted near the reservoir’s Plank Road boat launch, which was the site of an ongoing search Monday evening.

Dive teams from Somerset County and Greensburg took turns exploring an area approximately 30 feet from the shore throughout the day.

A camera-equipped drone flew overhead, and several boats also patrolled the water.

“At this point, we’re just trying to locate him,” Svencer said, adding that, as of Monday evening, the matter was not yet being classified as a drowning.

The missing man’s name was not released by police Monday.

Friends from the Ligonier area waited until dusk near the Quemahoning Family Recreation Area’s shoreline for news.

They watched quietly, some of them embracing, while search boats began to dock, ending a daylong search.

Tim Caldwell described the missing teen as an enthusiastic, talented young man who formed a lasting bond with his son when his family moved to the area several years ago.

Both graduated in June, and the missing teen made plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania this fall, Caldwell said.

“We’re all here doing what we can, trying to support his family. But it’s such a helpless feeling right now,” he said. “All we can do is wait … and hope a miracle happens.”

The teen’s family waited quietly nearby at a pavilion. One member said the family was not yet ready to comment.

Svencer said state police were still trying to gather facts and pinpoint the exact location where the young man was last spotted.

Investigators were interviewing the two friends who joined him on the lake earlier that day in an effort to narrow down the search area.

Much of Plank Road, between Koontz Road and Camp Harmony, was closed to traffic to allow a response team, rafts and other equipment to be mobilized near the boat launch.

Greensburg and Shanksville rescue teams, and the Somerset County Swiftwater Rescue/Flood Response Team were searching the area Monday. Conemaugh Township and Scalp Level firefighters were also dispatched to the scene.