Search continues for missing man

BEECH CREEK – A massive search-and-rescue mission continued Friday as emergency personnel from four counties looked for an elderly Beech Creek man swept into Little Sugar Run during a violent storm Thursday night.

Claude Rupert, 86, of 15 Reams Road, Beech Creek Township, was trying to get on his four-wheeler to save it from the flooding creek behind his home, according to his granddaughter, Kalsey Rupert.

“The water came too quick. It took the four-wheeler and Pap, too,” Kalsey said.

It happened around 7 p.m. Thursday, and a search for Rupert was immediately begun. Personnel searched until 3 a.m. Friday and then resumed the efforts at 8 a.m. The search was called off yesterday at approximately 7:30 p.m., said a spokesman for the Pennslyvania State Police at Lamar. The spokesman did not know by press time if the search would begin again today.

Despite the massive search, Rupert has not yet been found, Tpr. Matt Maggs of state police at Lamar said last night around press time.

“We are using water rescue from four counties, EMS personnel, rescue divers, volunteer fire companies, Clinton County emergency response units, dogs and a state police helicopter,” Maggs said from the command center set up at the Beech Creek/Blanchard Fire Co. on Friday afternoon. “Ultra Pipeline has also donated all of their equipment and men and big trucks to help in the search.”

The search, he said, has been all-inclusive, starting from 15 Reams Road and continuing down the stream and banks to Bald Eagle Creek.

“It is still an active search. We have more and more people coming in,” Maggs said Friday afternoon, adding that as of that afternoon it had not turned into a recovery mission.

Anyone with information is asked to call state police at Lamar at 726-6000.

The Clinton County Department of Emergency Services Friday afternoon reported that efforts continue on several levels following Thursday night’s heavy rains and flash flooding.

Executive Director Kevin Fanning said access to Route 150, between Mill Hall and Beech Creek, remains closed to all except local traffic.

Clinton County state Department of Transportation crews are working to reopen the roadway.

Fanning said a number of roads in the eastern portion of Beech Creek Township have major damage and are not passable. Roadways, drainage culverts, bridges, as well as a number of homes, sustained damage, all basically confined to the Beech Creek Township area.

“We still have one person not accounted for,” Fanning said, noting that local fire department crews and the Pennsylvania State Police are involved in that search.

Fanning says county emergency management representatives are conducting a damage assessment, with that focus mainly in the eastern portion of Beech Creek Township.

The storm dumped an estimated 5 to 7 inches of rain in about an hour’s time, according to reports from the National Weather Service. Fanning said waters have receded and while some additional rain is forecasted over the next several days, amounts are not expected to adversely impact area waterways.

Fanning says Clinton County mustered resources at the Emergency Operations Center throughout the evening, and emergency response personnel from Clinton, Lycoming and Centre counties provided support. A water rescue team from Cambria County remains in the area today, assisting with efforts.

“Under some very tough and unusual circumstances, our emergency responders performed well,” added Fanning. “As our efforts continue today, we appreciate those people not directly involved keeping their distance so emergency responders can be as effective as possible in their activities.”

Fanning said initial reports of a tornado being sighted from along Interstate-80 in the county have not been confirmed.