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March 28, 2014

Details emerge in river deaths

Still no word on why couple died or where their boat is

Live Oak —

Although there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the deaths of a New York couple whose bodies were found on the Suwannee River last weekend, their son Leigh Maynard and a friend offer some insight into who the couple were.

The bodies of Auburn, N.Y. residents Grace C. Maynard, 73, and James J. Maynard, 74, were discovered floating in the Suwannee River. Grace Maynard's body was found Friday, March 21, at 9:20 a.m. floating in the river downstream from the Highway 51 bridge in Mayo and James Maynard's body was found Sunday, March 23, floating approximately 1.6 miles upstream from Dowling Park, officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) said.

Officials were able to identify the couple after discovering a floating cooler about three miles upstream from where Grace Maynard’s body was discovered that had James Maynard's wallet inside. Their truck was located at the Gibson Park boat ramp outside of Jasper, apparently where they launched from, and further identification was made after checking the truck's registration and Grace Maynard’s New York driver license photo.

It was learned that the Maynards were registered guests at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park campground in White Springs. Park Manager Michelle Waterman explained that the canoe ramp at the park has been closed off since river levels reached 65 feet and it is still closed.

According to investigators, 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 in Jasper, which is where their truck was later located. Somewhere along the Suwannee River between Gibson Park and Hwy. 51 in Mayo something happened, causing the Maynards to enter the water, FWC stated. The boat has not yet been found.

“Based on items in their cooler and RV, we think it's most likely the accident happened during the afternoon of Thursday, March 20,” said Leigh Maynard. “We don't know what caused them to overturn, and we don't know what their assessment was of the risks that day.”

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