Rescue swimmers hang onto a hand line while search the Conewago Creek near Harmony Grove Road.
Rescue swimmers hang onto a hand line while search the Conewago Creek near Harmony Grove Road. (John Pavoncello photo - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Update: The missing boater had still not been found when the search ended Friday evening. For more details on Friday's search, go here.

Previous story: Crews returned to the Conewago Creek in Dover Township Friday morning to resume their search for a boater who went missing Thursday afternoon.

The male boater and a second man were fishing from a boat that was swept over a low-head dam about 3:15 p.m., sending both into the water, said East Berlin Fire Chief Lee Byers.

"One made it out himself. The other did not," he said.

Rescue personnel search the Conewago Creek near Haromy Grove Road for a missing person.
Rescue personnel search the Conewago Creek near Haromy Grove Road for a missing person. (John A. Pavoncello photo - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

For more than two hours crews from York, Adams and Cumberland counties searched the murky creek and its shores in hopes of rescuing the man.

But as time ticked by, their efforts were relabeled a recovery effort, Dover Township Fire Chief Glenn Jansen Sr. said.

"They guys all want to make a rescue. That's what they are trained to do," he said. "Now we've got to bring closure to the family."

The search was called off a little after 8 p.m. as rain and darkness fell.

Fishing: The men, whose names were not released, were fishing in a calm part of the creek, which boarders Dover and Warrington townships, north of the Davidsburg Road when their boat started to drift down stream toward the dam, Byers said.

They were unable to avoid the dam and were tossed from the boat as it was swept over. The man who made it out of the water did not require medical treatment, Byers said.

The boat did not have a motor and neither man was wearing a life vest, he said.

Signs posted along the creek warn people of the dam, Byers said.

Below the dam, the creek was running more swiftly than normal because of added runoff from a storm, which included heavy downpours, that hit the area Wednesday night.

According to AccuWeather, over a half-inch of rain was recorded at the York Airport outside Thomasville on Wednesday.

The search: Crews used boats to search the water as additional crews walked along its banks. All told, they searched three to four miles of the creek, Byers said.

At the Harmony Grove Road bridge, members of the York County Advanced Technical Rescue strung a rope from bank to bank to allow rescuers to search the water.

One rescue worker used a pole to search underwater around tree limbs and other debris that had collected at a bridge pier. But the efforts were fruitless.

John Sanford, ATR chief, said the team -- which includes volunteers from Dover Township, Yoe, Hanover and Shrewsbury fire departments -- are specially trained to handle water and other types of rescues.

Part of the creek where searchers focused their efforts was about chest deep but had pockets that dropped off to deeper water, said Mike Fischer, an assistant chief with Lake Clarke Rescue, a swiftwater rescue team based along the Susquehanna River.

"The problem is all the rain we got made the water murky," he said.

Eyes in the sky: Searchers on the ground were aided by a medical helicopter, and state police helicopters.

The state police helicopter is equipped with a thermal-imaging camera that can detect changes in temperatures, including warmer body temperatures in cooler water, Jansen said.

Crews resumed the search Friday morning, and Byers said they'll again focus on the part of the creek they have already searched, but there will be fewer searchers.

"We're probably going to downsize tomorrow to two or three boats in the water," he said.

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.