2014-05-01 / Front Page

Body Pulled from River at Meshoppen Identified as Yates

David Keeler and Cain Chamberlin

Thomas YatesThomas Yates

A body found in the Susquehanna River Thursday, May 1, at Meshoppen was identified as Thomas Yates, 46, who fell from the Laceyville bridge into the river for unknown reasons in the early morning hours of March 30.

Yates, formerly of Bellmore, NY, was found about 10 feet offshore near the location where Meshoppen Creek enters the river just off the intersection of Route 6 and Canal Street. His body was discovered by a person in a passing train just after 4 p.m.

The Wyoming County Coroner’s Office was able to identify Yates the following day. Coroner Thomas Kukuchka said the body arrived at his office around 6 p.m. on May 1 just hours after it was recovered. An autopsy was then scheduled for Friday, May 2 at 1 p.m. with Dr. Gary Ross, a forensic pathologist from Dunmore.

State police reported they are continuing their investigation into what led to Yates’s death.

Yates and his brothers had been attending a funeral in Laceyville.

David Yates, a brother of Thomas Yates, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person the same night of the disappearance after allegedly assaulting his brother, Richard Yates, on the Laceyville bridge following the funeral.

David Yates was held at the Wyoming County Correctional Facility on $50,000 before a preliminary hearing held on April 3.

Over a dozen agencies, 11 watercraft and numerous volunteers conducted a 10-mile, eight-hour search of the Susquehanna River, from Laceyville to Meshoppen, on Saturday, April 5. All landmasses, islands and riverbanks were searched in the area. Marine Sonic Technology utilized sonar to provide underwater visual capabilities, yet the search yielded no results in finding Yates’s body.

Agencies involved in the search included: Goodwill Fire Company, Tunkhannock Dive and Rescue, Pennsylvania Fish Commission, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Meshoppen Fire Company, Towanda Fire Company, Wysox Fire Company, North Towanda Fire Company, Wyalusing Fire Company, Germania Scuba Rescue Team and the Wyoming County Coroner’s office.

Updates on the investigation will be published in the Rocket-Courier and on the website as they develop. 

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