Coach: Dubics, missing paddleboarder, a ‘super special kid’

July 14, 2018

As rescue workers continued searching Friday for a missing Ligonier Valley graduate in the Quemahoning Reservoir, his former coach referred to him as the “ultimate football captain.”

Rescue crews spent another day looking for 18-year-old Joey Dubics after he disappeared into the 960-acre reservoir Monday afternoon. Crews have been using sonar, drones and ROVs, or remotely operated underwater vehicles, to assist divers in their search.

Roger Beitel, the Ligonier Valley head football coach, said Dubics’ friends and family “want to bring him home.”

“We want there to be closure,” he said. “We want his mother to see him. This is what we all need.”

Beitel said Dubics was more than just a football player.

“In Ligonier Valley’s football history we’ve had a lot of great captains, and they all had different qualities that made them great captains,” he said. “Joey was a kid who took all of those qualities.”

Beitel said Dubics was a tremendous leader with an amazing work ethic who was willing to help his teammates.

“He was never the most vocal kid,” he said. “But when he spoke, you listened.”

Many of Dubics’ friends and family have taken to social media and expressed how hard his disappearance has been on the community. Beitel said it was all because Dubics was a “super special kid.”

“There aren’t enough adjectives to describe him and his character,” he said. “He was one of the best kids I’ve ever coached in Ligonier Valley.”

Beitel said his football players have been at the reservoir supporting the family almost every day since the search began.

“The biggest thing we are all doing is openly discussing Joe, and that’s the biggest part of the healing process,” he said.

Dubics was planning to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall to become a state police officer. Beitel said that service was a part of Dubics’ nature, and that he always put other people first.

“That’s just who he was,” he said.

Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Nathan Svencer said Monday that the paddleboarder was with two female friends when he went under the water and didn’t resurface.

Divers are still searching about 30 feet from Plank Road where the missing paddleboarder was last seen, but David Boyer, a Scalp Level-Paint deputy fire chief, said rescue crews were starting to moving away from that area.

“The search area has changed drastically from what it was the first day,” he said Thursday.

Beitel said it’s been amazing to see the support from volunteers and rescue crews. He said everyone is grateful for their efforts.

“We are just in awe of men and women who are losing a day’s wage of work to be part of the rescue effort,” he said.

The search has involved the Conemaugh Township, Boswell, Jerome and Scalp Level fire departments, the Somerset County Swift Water Rescue Team, and dive teams from Shanksville and Greensburg. The Conemaugh Township ambulance service also responded, and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Tactical Search Team is using drones to scour the area.

A Cambria Somerset Authority official said the reservoir holds 12.8 billion gallons of water. The water is about 92 feet, or 8 1/2 stories, at its deepest point.

The search was called off at 8:49 p.m. Friday and was scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Beitel said everyone who knew Dubics is still waiting to hear that he’s been found and is coming home.

“We need to bring him back to the valley,” he said.

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