Katcher died of drowning, coroner says

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Friday, August 4, 2006

A coroner revealed last week that Ryan Katcher, a Illinois student who had been missing for five years and was found dead a few days ago, had died of drowning. Peggy Johnson, Vermilion County Coroner, added that there was no evidence of criminal action surrounding his death. “There are no injuries whatsoever anywhere on Ryan’s head,” she said.

The body of the 19 year-old was discovered in his pickup truck at the bottom of a lake in Illinois. According to Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn, the University of Illinois student’s truck was lifted out of fifty feet of water by emergency workers who were testing new rescue equipment in the lake. Bob Huff, from the Danville/Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency, added: “For the past five and a half years we’ve repeatedly continued to search ponds … It’s the technology that found it this time.” Mr Huff didn’t say how the truck got into the water, but he did say the vehicle could have veered off the road.

Ryan’s mother, who has had to deal with five agonising years of not knowing the whereabouts of her son, said after his discovery: “The sad thing is now the search is over. The good thing is Ryan’s home. We’ve strived to search for Ryan for five and a half years. There was always hope that Ryan could walk through the door at some time.”

Sheriff Pat Hartshorn says he now considers the Katcher case closed. “The five and a half years it’s taken to discover Ryan has led to so many conspiracy theories and mystery novel writers and people who have bothered the family and sometime tormented them,” he said. “But the truth of the matter is it’s a tragic accident that took Ryan’s life.”

Clear Lake in Kickapoo State Park in Oakwood had been the student’s watery grave for over five years. He vanished on 5 November 2000 after one of his friends drove him home from a party at around two o'clock in the morning.