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April 4, 2014

Questions remain in river deaths

Live Oak —

James and Grace Maynard, whose bodies were found on the Suwannee River last month, have been laid to rest in their hometown. A memorial service and luncheon was held Wednesday, April 2, at Brunswick Church in Troy, N.Y. for the Maynards.

Their bodies were discovered floating in the Suwannee River at two separate locations over the weekend of March 21-23. Officials were able to identify the couple from evidence found in a floating cooler and registration information found in their truck, which was located at Gibson Park in Jasper, from where they apparently launched their small boat, officials said. However, the boat has yet to be found and the cause of the couple’s death is still unknown. 

The Maynards were registered guests at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park campground in White Springs, but with river levels so high and the canoe ramp closed, it can only be assumed they traveled to Gibson Park to launch their boat, officials said. Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) said somewhere along the Suwannee River between Gibson Park and Hwy. 51 in Mayo something happened, causing the Maynards to enter the water.

Initially, investigators stated the Maynards launched a lime green and white, 13-foot Gheenoe-type boat with a New York registration and a two and a half horse powered engine from Gibson Park, however, on Tuesday, April 1, Stan Kirkland from FWC said the boat is more of a light brown or olive green color, which was verified by family members. A Gheenoe, Kirkland explained, looks like a canoe on the front and has a square back where one can place an outboard motor.

With the river being so high right now, Kirkland said they are not asking the public to go out searching for it as it could be dangerous. If, by chance, someone does spot the boat, they are asked to call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922. Meanwhile, Kirkland said they anticipate having a pilot fly the river in the next couple of days to do an aerial search for the boat.

According to Kirkland, results from the medical examiner’s office for cause of death will probably take about two to three months, after which it will be given to the family and also made public.

Leigh Maynard, their son, stated, “There are some questions I don't think will ever be answered.”

FWC officials are continuing the investigation. 

 

 

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