Where's Joe McGeehan?

Brides­burg res­id­ent, Joe McGee­han, dis­ap­peared last week­end. His Jeep was found dam­aged in the murky wa­ters of the Delaware River. His fam­ily holds out hope that McGee­han es­caped the sunken vehicle.

A Jeep pulled from the Delaware River on Sunday is the vehicle of Joseph McGee­han, the miss­ing Brides­burg man who has been the sub­ject of a search by fam­ily and friends since Jan. 7, yet, McGee­han’s fate still isn’t known.

McGee­han’s cous­in, Jeff Ho­jnowski, said fam­ily mem­bers re­main hope­ful that the 31-year-old man is alive.

No one has seen or heard from McGee­han since 10:30 p.m. on Sat­urday, Jan. 7, Ho­jnowski said.McGee­han, who lived with his sis­ter near Har­bison and Tor­res­dale av­en­ues, had left Cal­lo­way’s Ir­ish Inn at Cottman Av­en­ue and Row­land Street and was driv­ing his 2007 black Jeep Liberty east­bound on Cottman Av­en­ue to­ward Frank­ford Av­en­ue, Ho­jnowski said.

McGee­han re­portedly was head­ing to the Wissi­nom­ing Yacht Club, at 5100 Dever­eaux St., to meet up with friends. He nev­er ar­rived.

“It’s totally out of char­ac­ter for him not to show up,” McGee­han’s cous­in said.

Through pub­lic ap­peals, es­pe­cially on so­cial-net­work sites, fam­ily and friends have pos­ted McGee­han’s photo and sought any in­form­a­tion that can be help­ful.

As of Thursday, Jan. 12, Phil­adelphia po­lice still had clas­si­fied McGee­han as a miss­ing per­son. A po­lice con­tact told the Star that a po­lice re­port in­dic­ated that the Jeep was re­covered from the Delaware River.

Stephanie Maude, a cous­in of McGee­han’s, con­tac­ted the Star late last week and said that al­though the fam­ily had reached out to po­lice on Jan 8 - the day after McGee­han’s dis­ap­pear­ance - McGee­han’s vehicle wasn’t re­trieved from the river un­til Tues­day, Jan. 10.

The po­lice con­tact said the vehicle was sub­merged in about 19 feet of wa­ter and had front-end dam­age, in­clud­ing a smashed wind­shield and miss­ing head­lights and bump­er.

When McGee­han failed to ar­rive at the yacht club, fam­ily and friends called hos­pit­als and po­lice dis­tricts, hope­ful of learn­ing his where­abouts, Ho­jnowski said.

Some headed for McGee­han’s in­ten­ded des­tin­a­tion, the yacht club, and no­ticed tire tracks on Un­ruh Av­en­ue that led in­to the river, he ad­ded.

Ho­jnowski said the fam­ily was able to ob­tain se­cur­ity sur­veil­lance foot­age from cam­er­as at Or­tho­dox Auto­mot­ive, at 5247 Un­ruh Ave. The foot­age, re­cor­ded on the night McGee­han went miss­ing, showed a Jeep plunging in­to the murky wa­ters of the Delaware River.

“There’s no bar­ri­cades there,” said Ho­jnowski. “If you’re driv­ing down that street, you could be in the wa­ter be­fore you know it … the wa­ter just looks like black as­phalt.”

In fact, Maude had taken even taken video to show how dark the area is at night. She said the fam­ily feels there needs to be some sort of warn­ing sign to alert drivers to the river’s edge there.

Lisa Barry, a close friend of McGee­han’s for more than 20 years who has been part of the search, said that, from McGee­han’s vehicle, po­lice also re­covered McGee­han’s cell phone and a shoe.

She ex­pressed her feel­ing that po­lice could be tak­ing a more act­ive role in the search for McGee­han.

“It’s really crazy,” said Barry, not­ing that friends and fam­ily con­tin­ue to search the river­side near where his vehicle was found. ldquo;I don’t know why the po­lice aren’t get­ting in­volved.”

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice con­tact, of­ficers searched for the driver but even­tu­ally sus­pen­ded the op­er­a­tion be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient light­ing.

McGee­han’s cous­in Maude agreed Barry’s as­sess­ment of the po­lice re­sponse.

She claimed that once po­lice re­covered the vehicle - the third that, she said, was pulled from the river that day - of­ficers used son­ar in an at­tempt to find McGee­han.

However, she said, divers wouldn’t enter the wa­ter due to the fri­gid con­di­tions that even­ing.

She also claimed an of­ficer told her that once the vehicle was re­covered, their jobs were done and McGee­han would even­tu­ally “wash up.”

Also, Barry ac­know­ledged that there has been con­cern about wheth­er McGee­han could have taken his own life, but no one had seen any signs of de­pres­sion.

“He was nev­er de­pressed or any­thing,” she said.

McGee­han’s cous­in, Ho­jnowski, doesn’t be­lieve it was a sui­cide at­tempt either; the Jeep was found with one of the front seat win­dows open, po­ten­tially leav­ing McGee­han with an es­cape route, the cous­in the­or­ized.

Ho­jnowski said the fam­ily is work­ing with the Coast Guard to help search the wa­ter for his cous­in.

As the days pass, he said, the fam­ily con­tin­ues to hold on to the fad­ing hope that McGee­han may still be alive.

“One of the of­ficers told me Joe could sur­vive in the wa­ter for over an hour without get­ting hy­po­ther­mia,” said Ho­jnowski. “So, there are signs that he may have got­ten out.”

McGee­han is white, about 5-feet-9, and weighs about 140 pounds. He has short brown hair and a goat­ee.

The word “Babe” — his nick­name — is tat­tooed on his right fore­arm in old Eng­lish let­ters; a green, white and or­ange Celt­ic sham­rock sur­roun­ded by the words “In lov­ing memory of Burr” is tat­tooed on his left fore­arm.

He also has the word “Erin” tat­tooed on his up­per left chest. In­form­a­tion can be re­layed to the po­lice by call­ing 911 or to McGee­han’s fam­ily at 215-284-7514 or ho­jophobic@aol.com. ••

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com 

Ed­it­or’s note: This art­icle was up­dated with new in­form­a­tion on Monday, Jan. 16, after McGee­han’s fam­ily con­tac­ted the Star with new in­form­a­tion. 

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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