Drowned man’s body is recovered at Lake Crescent

The body of Travis Valenti, a New York man who drowned in Lake Crescent on June 9, was located and recovered late Wednesday afternoon in Lake Crescent at a depth of 394 feet offshore from the Log Cabin Resort, according to Chief Ranger Scott Jacobs of Olympic National Park on Thursday afternoon, June 22.

“We had a request from Christian Aid Ministries. So we gave them a Good Samaritan permit to conduct the search,” Jacobs said.

“They started around 8 a.m., found a high-interest target at 3 p.m. and found the body at 5 p.m. It was brought to the surface at 6:30 p.m.,” he continued.

The Berlin, Ohio-based ministry, which has search and rescue teams in 10 states, sent a crew from Pennsylvania to conduct the search and recovery, which was conducted using a remote-operated vehicle given the depth.

“These folks drove across the country and found his body in less than 24 hours using this technology. It is really amazing,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the permit was free and was issued in less than 24 hours after being requested.

Valenti, 37, had proposed to Marlene Junker, his longtime girlfriend, two days before he died.

They were coming back from Devil’s Punchbowl in separate kayaks, neither wearing life jackets, when Valenti’s kayak began taking on water, Junker said in a telephone interview. So he abandoned it and tried climbing into hers, she said.

“He tried to jump in to get warm. Then mine overturned. We were both struggling. At that point, he was so hypothermic. We started seesawing and got separated and I saw him go under. We were in the middle of the lake. I started screaming for help, but there was nobody around,” Junker said.

A neighbor of the AirBnB where they were staying spotted them and called 911, Junker said.

She swam to shore. When her feet hit the shore, she turned around and saw the pontoon boat from the Lake Cabin Resort but no sign of her fiance.

Junker said Thursday afternoon that memorial plans still were being developed.

A GoFundMe campaign to help with the recovery effort and funeral expenses was set up June 13. As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, it had raised $61,172 from 699 donations. The goal had been $20,000.

The fundraiser, “Help us find Travis Valenti,” can be viewed at gf.me/v/c/gfm/help-us-find-travis-valenti.

Valenti was from Massapequa, N.Y., a hamlet in the town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County on the south shore of Long Island. The Greater Massapequa area had a population of 21,685 at the time of the 2010 census.

The website for the Christian Aid Ministries’ Pennsylvania team says: “Our team has multiple boats and trained team members that can assist with searches for drowning victims. We utilize state of the art side scan SONAR and also have a towfish (an object towed behind a vessel carrying sonar equipment) to obtain stable images in deep water. Our ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) allows us to use cameras and SONAR to clear points of interest or make body recoveries in up to 500 feet of water.”

According to the academic paper “Human Body Search and Recovery Using Mini-ROVs” written by Brock J. Rosenthal and Jeff J. Conger, “Mini-ROVs have been used as rapid response tools for the search and recovery of human bodies in zero visibility, inaccessible and “beyond diver depth” environments for some time now.”