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Father says son’s body found in Black River

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WATERTOWN — The body of a man who went missing after his canoe capsized in the frigid Black River more than two weeks ago was found about midday Saturday at the hydroelectric plant on Marble Street off Eastern Boulevard, his father said.

John Villafranco, 24, of Texas, drowned in the strong currents on April 21, according to his father, Gilbert H., who confirmed the identity of the body. John Villafranco’s wife, Lydia, was pulled to safety by a group of Fort Drum soldiers fishing nearby.

Gilbert Villafranco said he found his son’s body while searching with his wife, Blanche G., about noon, a search the family has been conducting since the accident, recently aided by a Wisconsin-based nonprofit.

“I said ‘I found my son in the water, please hurry,’” he said, citing what he claimed was a delayed response by the fire department to the scene. “And now they don’t even know how to get him out.”

Personnel at the hydroelectric plant helped sheriff’s deputies and city firefighters recover and transport the body from the scene after the report came in at 12:17 p.m., according to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department news release. An autopsy is set for Monday, the release said.

State police, city police and a Guilfoyle Ambulance squad also responded to the scene.

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