Police find 2nd hunter's body
(Published: Saturday, February 16, 2008)
State Police on Friday found the second of three hunters missing
in the marshes of western Fairfield Township. Searchers found the
body of Zdzislaw "Jerry" Piorkowski, 59, of Philadelphia, at about
12:50 p.m. on a tributary of Back Creek more than a half-mile from
where his boat was discovered Sunday night.
State Troopers Will-iam Tirotti and Jeffrey Reitz were surveying
the marshes in a shallow-water boat when they realized the tides
were lower than they had been for most of the week, according to
"They realized the tide was real low, and they wanted to take
advantage of that," State Police Sgt. Steve Jones said. "They called
in the State Police helicopter and within five minutes they spotted
An initial recovery attempt failed.
On the second attempt, a state trooper was lowered to the water
and was able to retrieve Piorkowski.
Piorkowski was a Polish immigrant who established a travel agency
in Philadelphia that catered to Poles when their home country was
controlled by Communists. He later launched a Polish variety show on
Philadelphia public television, and was well-known within the
The last of the three hunters, Jozef Karamuz, 62, a surgeon from
Huntington Valley, Pa., remains missing.
Searchers found Jan Toryft, 45, of Princeton, on Sunday night
about 200 yards from the group's 12-foot boat. A medical examiner
determined Toryft died from exposure.
The three hunters set out last Saturday at 2 p.m. to hunt geese
and were expected to return at 7 p.m. Authorities began a search the
next day after learning of the missing men.
State Police initially believed the group's boat may have been
intentionally overturned, with their gear - including flotation
devices and a spotlight - stowed beneath it. That view is now in
doubt, due to potential disturbance of the scene, according to Sgt.
David Bodine of the State Police Marine Unit of the Bivalve barracks
in Commercial Township.
Bodine confirmed that searchers found a cell phone with one of
the men, although he declined to say which. No phone calls for help
appear to have been made, Bodine said. Despite the area's rural
nature, cell phones do work there, he said.
Both men were found without boots. They could've intentionally
removed their boots while trying to swim, or they could have lost
them in mud that, when thawed, as it was last Saturday, can swallow
a person up past their waist. The muddy marshland could have made
travel very difficult to any survivor of an accident who was trying
to navigate back home at night.
"The mud is between ankle-deep and waist-deep," Bodine said. "You
step in, and you just go straight down. Unless you've experienced
it, you just don't understand it."
Police continue to investigate and have not determined what
accident may have befallen the men or how Toryft, who was found on
another tributary off Back Creek, and Piorkowski could have been
found so far apart.
Bodine anticipated stepped-up searches for Karamuz in the wake of
Piorkowski's recovery, at least for a few days. The U.S. Coast Guard
cut short its search efforts earlier this week.
To e-mail Daniel Walsh at The Press: