Watertown New York Search for John Villafranco


Gilbert and Blanche Villafranco have searched the banks of the Black River every day for their son, who fell out of a canoe two weeks ago. John Villafranco would have been 25 years old this month. His body has not been recovered.

Gilbert Villafranco says his son died a hero — while saving his wife.

The police department has put a very good effort in trying to locate the body but so far but John has been elusive. Today we ran the side scan sonar in the area John was last seen. As well, we deposited our boat and sonar into a canal that diverts water to a hydro plant. The firemen and police of Watertown have been absolutely stellar in helping us move equipment to make these searches possible. As usual, no search is identical and requires a bit of ingenuity and careful planning to get the imaging we need to scan an area. The canal we scanned today, couldn’t have happened without some great effort by a good group of people. Unfortunately we haven’t located John yet.

Trying to locate a body in rivers is extremely difficult. So many factors come into play that affect the outcome. Now that we have our sonar images we plan to post-process and see what we find. Our plan for May 6 is to use the ROV to put eyes under water and sort through all the debris which can hide a body and/or distort our side scan sonar images.

Our sincerest wish is to help the Villafrancos get there son back.

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