GHTA Members in the News

Group says locks vital to Monongahela River
August 14, 2012
Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Fred and Linda Mangelsdorf, the husband and wife captains of “Young America” both grew up landlocked in the Midwest — Fred in Illinois and Linda in South Dakota.
Recently they tried out their sea legs — or maybe that’s river legs — piloting their trawler on the Monongahela River.
Neither had to be sold on the idea of living on a boat basically full time after both retired, she said.
A trawler, both said, just made sense. It’s a livable boat that can navigate most waters. And the top cruising speed of 7 knots (around 8 mph) is perfect for people who aren’t in a hurry. It was Fred, in fact, who started thinking about the Mon River and the Mountain State.
“I said, ‘Hey, you can get to West Virginia by water,'” Fred remembers, musing over an old map of waterways. “Let’s go there.”
Barry Pallay likes that “Let’s go there” directive.
He’s an avid whitewater kayaker and vice president of the Upper Monongahela River Association, a nonprofit watchdog group that champions the Mon and its tributaries here.
In recent days, UMRA has watched the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has floated the idea of limiting boat access or shuttering altogether select locks along the Mon — including the ones at Morgantown, and the Hildebrand and Opekiska lock systems downriver closer to Fairmont.
Should that happen, he said, there won’t be any return visits of for the Mangelsdorfs and other trawlers who enjoyed navigating the Monongahela River.
“This shows all the opportunity the river affords us,” he said. “It’s important for economic development and for the spirit of Morgantown.”
A West Virginia lawmaker on Capitol Hill agrees. Rep. David McKinley, R.-W.Va., whose 1st Congressional District covers a lot of areas the Mon flows through, urged federal engineers to not limit river traffic here. Doing so, he said would change the course of investment opportunities in the region’s energy and high-tech sectors.
Joe Pica just wants a chance to pat the Mothman’s behind in Point Pleasant.
“Yeah,” the retired Washington, D.C., cop said with a chuckle in Morgantown. “They’ve got a statue of him in town, and somebody was telling me you have to rub his butt for good luck. Couldn’t hurt.”
He’s going to visit the statue of the mythical creature because Point Pleasant is on the way. The town sits along the banks where the Kanawha River meets the Ohio. If there’s a river, he says, there’s a reason to go. And every river town, he says, has its own fun, little oddities — be it a Mothman statue or a Jell-O Museum or a courtyard that’s home to the World’s Ugliest Fountain.
“We love this stuff,” said Joe, who has been a full-time river cruiser since 2007. That’s when he turned in his shield and he and his wife, Kathy — everybody on the river calls her by her old childhood nickname, “Punk” — put their house up for sale so they could purchase their 30-foot trawler styled boat, the “Carolyn Ann.”
Now, they drop anchor wherever there’s a dock, and sometimes where there isn’t. At this particular stop along the Monongahela River in Morgantown, they were joined by two other kindred couples in this waking, floating dream.
Randy Semper, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., has been into boats for as long as he can remember. The 70-year-old spent his boyhood along the Erie Canal and bought a 16-foot roundabout when he and Barbara were newlyweds, 33 years ago.
The 37-foot “Lazy Dolphin,” with its fully equipped kitchen, computerized wheelhouse and other amenities, trumps that first one, the retired statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, smiling.
“Now, we just go where the water takes us,” Randy said.

Remains found on burning boat; man sought

Man’s ex-wife, another boat owner missing in St. Marys

Published On: Aug 14 2012 01:34:02 PM EDT  Updated On: Aug 14 2012 02:08:12 PM EDT
David Trauger

 David Trauger

ST. MARYS, Ga. –

 

A man and a woman are missing, and the remains of one person were found on a boat that was found burning early Monday morning in St. Marys, according to investigators.

Investigators are also looking for a person of interest.

St. Marys police said they were called to the suspicious boat fire at the St. Marys Boat Yard located along North River area of New Point Peter Road about 3:20 a.m. Monday.

Investigators said there were suspicious audible sounds on a 911 call overheard by a dispatcher.

Officers said they saw the boat on fire while moored about 50 to 75 yards off shore.

Investigators searched the waterway, marshlands and shore lines along North River looking for anyone who may have abandoned the boat, but they didn’t find anyone.

Officers said they recovered a small, dingy watercraft that was capsized and was believed to have belonged to the owner of the boat. They said the dingy had charring to the hull and the mooring line appeared to have been burnt from where it was tied to the boat.

The burning 37-foot boat, called the Great Harbour, was maneuvered closer to the St. Marys Boat Yard dock, where firefighters put the fire out.

Investigators said the boat owner, Karen Barnes, could not be found. In their search efforts, officers were directed to a neighboring boat owned by Larry Ford, who was supposed to be aboard his boat and was an
acquaintance of Barnes. Investigators said they searched Ford’s boat and determined he, too, was missing from the area.

Investigators said that based on information received from interviewing of people at the boat yard and the 911 audio recording, it is possible Barnes and Ford may have been on board the boat at the time of the fire, but no confirmation of Ford being on board was found.

Investigators said they also found out that Barnes and her ex-husband, David Trauger, were involved in a dispute over the boat after Barnes was initially awarded the boat as part of the divorce property settlement.

Trauger was known to be in the St. Marys area prior to the boat fire and was a suspect in a previous burglary and criminal damage investigation involving the boat that occurred in July at the St Marys Boat Yard.

Barnes and Trauger were scheduled to appear in Brunswick Superior Court on Tuesday in connection with the ownership of the boat involved in the fire. A temporary Family Violence Protection Order was issued through the court on Aug. 3 by Barnes, but Trauger could not be found to be served with the protection order by Glynn County authorities, investigators said.

During the initial processing of the boat, crime scene investigators found the charred remains of one human skeleton. Because of the condition of the remains, it could not be determined whether they were that of a man or woman. The remains were collected and transported to the Camden County
Coroners Office for storage and transport to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office for identification analysis. It’s unclear how long the forensic analysis will take to complete investigators said.

Local authorities have issued local, state and national attempts to locate bulletins for Trauger in connection with the July burglary. He is considered a person of interest in the boat fire investigation.

The search continues for Barnes and Ford as there is no confirmation at this time that either one of the them are dead, investigators said. They are still considered to be missing and endangered.

Trauger, 67, is described as a white man, 160-170 pounds, with a slender build. He is an avid boater and is
known to own numerous properties up and down the East Coast.

Anyone with any information on Trauger’s whereabouts is asked to call the St. Marys Police Department.

 

Update:

ST. MARYS, Ga. — After a suspicious boat fire, the St. Marys Police Department is looking for a person of interest.

In the early morning hours Monday, the St. Marys Police Department was called to the St. Marys Boat Yard after an “emergency 911 open line call with suspicious audible sounds overheard by the duty Communication Officer,” according to a news release from the St. Marys Police Department.

When police got to the boat yard, they saw a boat fifty to seventy-five yards off shore on fire.

The St. Marys Fire Department, Camden County Search and Rescue and Georgia Department of Natural Resources also responded to the boat yard.

Camden County Search and Rescue searched the area for anyone who may have abandoned the boat. They searched the waterway, marsh lands and shore lines along North River but never found anyone.

Officers did find a small dingy that had capsized. The release said they believe this belongs to the owner of the boat. When authorities investigated the small boat, they found it had been charred on the hull and mooring line. Police believe these were burnt from where it was tied to the larger boat.

Search and rescue vessels maneuvered the burning boat closer to the dock so fire department personnel could extinguish the blaze.  After the fire was put out, the boat was moved back into the docking area.

Once it was determined the boat was safe, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Specialist began processing it for evidence.

When the Crime Scene Specialist was processing the boat, they found a charred human skeleton. The condition of the remains was so bad investigators were not able to determine if the person was a man or a woman.

The remains were taken to the Camden County Coroners Office for storage. After that, they were brought to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiners Office to be identified. The release said the forensic analysis will take an undetermined amount of time to complete.

The release said arriving officers were not able to find the boat owner, Karen Shaye Barnes (Trauger). While they were searching for her, they were directed to a neighboring boat owned by Larry Ford.

Police had been told Ford was aboard his boat and knew Karen Barnes.

When police searched his boat, they found he too was missing from the area.

When police conducted interviews of people at the boat yard, the release said, and combined them with the audible recording from the open line 911 call, they believe it is possible Barnes and Ford were on board the boat when the fire started. The release said there was no confirmation of Ford being on board the boat.

As police continued their investigation, they learned Barnes and her ex-husband, David Trauger, were involved in a dispute over the boat when Barnes was awarded the boat in a divorce settlement.

Prior to the boat fire, the release said Trauger was known to be in the St. Marys area. Trauger is a suspect in a burglary and criminal damage involving the boat that happened in July 2012.

The parties were scheduled to be in court August 14, the release said, in connection with ownership of the boat.

Police have issued local, state and national bulletins in an attempt to locate Trauger. He is being sought in connection to the July burglary and as a person of interest in the boat fire.

The release said there is no confirmation that Barnes or Ford are deceased. Police are still looking for them and the release said they are considered to be endangered and missing.

Trauger is described as a 67-year-old white male, 160-170 pounds, with a slender build. Police said he is an avid boater and owns numerous properties along the east coast.

If you have any information that may be able to help police, you are asked to call the St. Marys Police Department at 912-882-4488 or the Camden County Consolidated Dispatch Center at 912-729-1442.