Park vis­i­tor’s body found in water­way

Vir­ginia fam­ily was at Myr­tle Point when 20-year-old man dis­ap­peared

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com

A Vir­ginia fam­ily’s visit last week­end to a St. Mary’s park ended in tragedy, with a search for a 20-year-old man that com­menced Satur­day af­ter­noon and was fol­lowed the next day by the dis­cov­ery of his body in a nearby water­way.

No foul play is sus­pected in the death of Manuel DeJe­sus Por­tillo Romero, ac­cord­ing to the St. Mary’s sher­iff’s deputies, who con­ducted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion at Myr­tle Point Park in Cal­i­for­nia, as vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers went out in boats on the Patux­ent River and the miss­ing man’s rel­a­tives anx­iously hud­dled at a pic­nic ta­ble

on shore.

“My daugh­ter said he went to look at the wa­ter,” Maria Romero said as the look­out for her son con­tin­ued.

“He just was walk­ing,” the young girl said.

The fam­ily from Alexan­dria, Va., made pre­vi­ous vis­its to the park, the mother said, and they ar­rived there at about 9:30 a.m. Satur­day. They no­ticed about 90 min­utes later that the young man was miss­ing.

“They were pack­ing up to leave, [and] they re­al­ized that he was no longer with them,” sher­iff’s Cpl. Julie Yin­gling said Mon­day.

The cir­cum­stances of the man’s dis­ap­pear­ance had not been con­firmed, Yin­gling said, when 911 dis­patch­ers re­ceived a call, listed on a dis­patch log as shortly be­fore 1 p.m. Satur­day. “We went ahead and started a wa­ter search im­me­di­ately,” the cor­po­ral said, one that also was as­sisted by Mary­land Nat­u­ral Re­sources Po­lice, Mary­land State Po­lice and a he­li­copter crew.

“It was only [the] small child who ac­tu­ally saw him in the wa­ter,” Yin­gling said.

Satur­day’s search stopped at about 5 p.m., the dis­patch log states, due to wors­en­ing weather con­di­tions.

The miss­ing man’s body was lo­cated shortly af­ter 4 p.m. Sun­day when a home­owner dis­cov­ered him, Yin­gling said, and a sher­iff’s re­lease de­scribed the lo­ca­tion as an ad­dress off Half Pone Point Road near the mouth of Cuck­old Creek.

The man’s body was taken to the state med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice in Bal­ti­more for an au- topsy to de­ter­mine the cause and man­ner of his death. No re­sults were avail­able from the agency’s spokesper­son on Tues­day morn­ing.

The sher­iff’s of­fice has re­quested that any­one with fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the mat­ter to con­tact de­tec­tive Brian Fen­nessey by call­ing at 301-4754200, ext. *8103, or by send­ing email to brian.fen­nessey@stmarysmd.com.

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