Body recovered from Paw Paw River Tuesday

WATERVLIET TOWNSHIP — Authorities recovered the body of a white male from the Paw Paw River at 4:47 p.m, Tuesday.

The body is believed to belong to missing Niles kayaker, Cory Wright, according to Watervliet Fire Department Chief Dan Jones.

The body has been sent to Lakeland Hospital Morgue in St. Joseph for examination. An autopsy will be conducted and the positive identification of the recovered body is ongoing. Jones said officers are not sure what the timeframe to confirm the identity of the body will be.

“We are still waiting for positive identification,” Jones said. “Given the fact that it is the only person that has been missing, there is a real strong possibility that we recovered him.”

Wright, 35, and two others were kayaking on the Paw Paw River around 7:44 p.m. Feb. 27. Wright struck a log on the river around 7:44 p.m. near 4265 R. Smith St with two others. Wright struck a log and was knocked into the water. The two other kayakers made it back to shore safely.

Since his disappearance 43 days ago, the Watervliet Fire Department and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Marine Division partnered with the Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State Police to comb through the water and surrounding areas in search of Wright.

Jones said the body was found about 400 yards from where he first went missing. The body was first discovered when Berrien County Sheriff’s Lt. Martin Kurtz and Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit were patrolling the Paw Paw River in efforts to locate the missing kayaker. While patrolling the river, Kurtz observed a suspicious object under the water and upon further investigation it was believed to be a human body.

Jones commended local authorities for providing their support in the search. 

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