Body Of Missing Fisherman Found

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TAFTON -- A fisherman missing since Saturday was found dead Monday morning on the shore of Lake Wallenpaupack

Officials said the man from Jefferson Township accidentally drowned.

Jeffrey Kochis, 33, was reported missing Saturday, after being out bass fishing near Schuman's Point at Lake Wallenpaupack.

Other fishermen on the lake found his empty boat mid-afternoon and the search began.

On Monday, troopers said they found Kochis' body washed up along the lake's shore.

The chilly waters at Lake Wallenpaupack were quiet Monday, but weekend before, Judy and Herman Schmid said it was just the opposite.

Judy said just across the lake near Schuman's Point, she saw an empty boat.

"I saw one of the, either a police boat or the fire rescue boat, coming to pick it up. I saw the red light flashing and was going over to the boat."

Officials said the boat belonged to Jeffrey Kochis. He was out fishing alone in one of his favorite spots. Crews searched for Kochis, only to find him days later washed up near Shore Drive in Pike County.

The coroner is ruling his death as an accidental drowning.

"I would surmise that he fell in the water and maybe the boat drifted away from him in the wind and he couldn't get to the boat and went under," said Herman Schmid of Tafton.

"It just gave me goose bumps to think that because it was probably somebody we knew."

Irene Panfili owns the Hunter's Gallery near Hamlin and believes she knows Kochis and said he was someone she enjoyed seeing at her store.

"Very nice young man, very personable, very intelligent, and just an all-around great guy."

People who live at Lake Wallenpaupack said this isn't the first time a fisherman has gone missing in these waters, but that it never gets easy to find out another person was lost in this lake.

"You don't want to see no accidents or anyone drowning or anything like that.  That's always a minus," said Herman.

The Schmids' said Saturday's fishing conditions seemed rough and much too cold.

"It was very windy, much windier that it is today and the lake was white-capping.  So it was very windy, and it was chilly," Judy added. "It's scary. It really is."

Friends of Kochis were at the docks Monday morning and did not want to talk on camera but said they all had fished with him. Kochis was very skilled, and this incident has left them all in shock.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is continuing to investigate.