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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Mother of missing rafter in limbo waiting for body to be identified
Body found in Twelve Mile Creek identified as lost rafter, Liam Neumann EVAN LOREE

It’s been several days since police pulled a body out of Twelve Mile Creek on Saturday, but Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Barbara Worthy is stuck in limbo waiting for officials to say whether the body is that of her missing son, Liam Neumann.

“Until he’s back here, I feel I’m still very much in a holding pattern,” the NOTL Museum employee told The Lake Report.

While police are waiting for a coroner in Toronto to identify the body, Worthy says there is “no doubt” in her mind it’s her 34-year-old son, who went missing two Sundays ago.

Police spokesperson Const. Philip Gavin said the body was discovered on July 1 a short distance downriver from where Neumann disappeared. 

“The coroners haven’t even given me 100 per cent confirmation. But of course, we know it is,” Worthy said.

While she and her family make arrangements for her son with NOTL’s Morgan Funeral Home, she said she “can’t make any real decisions” until the body is identified. 

A witness spotted the body caught in some shoreline trees near the Welland Vale bridge in St. Catharines, Gavin said.

Police looked for Neumann from June 26 to 29 before stopping the search to evaluate their next steps, he said.

He was last seen Sunday, June 25, in Twelve Mile Creek near Hillcrest Avenue where the river bends and starts to get choppy. 

Jordan Meyer, Neumann’s lifelong friend, said a witness he met last week told him that Neumann was floating down the creek on an inflatable raft with his dog Brody when he reached the rapids.

After getting his raft closer to shore, he lost control of it with his dog still aboard. 

Meyer said Neumann “didn’t even hesitate” and went after his dog.

Gavin said Neumann became distressed in the water while trying to recover the raft and disappeared under the surface. 

It’s been a painful, exhausting time for Worthy. “I can’t quite grasp it all yet,” she said.

Going forward, her mission is to make sure Twelve Mile Creek is safer for everyone.

“It’s a dangerous place. It’s got to be monitored much more closely,” she said.

Gavin said police do “provide safety messaging” to the public and also patrol trails along the creek, but that “trail safety enforcement isn’t something we historically do a lot.” 

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