Missing Ligonier Valley’s teen’s family thanks community for support
The parents of Joey Dubics, a Ligonier Valley graduate believed to have drowned this week in Somerset County, took time Friday to thank the community for its overwhelming support as emergency crews continue to search Quemahoning Reservoir.
“These people don’t even know us, but they’ve given us campers to stay in, food to eat, they even brought us toothbrushes,” Tom Dubics said in a statement released to the Tribune-Review.
Tom and Kris Dubics have been at the Quemahoning Family Recreation Area almost constantly since they learned their son was missing Monday.
Joey Dubics, 18, was a running back and captain of the Ligonier Valley High School football team. He never resurfaced after diving from a paddleboard to recover a hat and sunglasses, authorities said.
People have donated campers and copious amounts of food and beverages for the family and first responders.
“They had cases of water and Gatorade. They had cleaned out the potato chip aisle at local grocery stores,” said the Rev. Jonathan Adams, 28, a local Lutheran pastor who has been supporting the family during the search.
Adams also is a firefighter and chaplain of Boswell Volunteer Fire Department in Somerset County. He said first responders are used to quick-and-easy meals like hamburgers and hot dogs from the Salvation Army during extended emergencies. That hasn’t been the case this time, he said.
“We’ve had homecooked meals every meal for the last couple days,” he said.
The Somerset County community takes the search personally, he said. Residents have become accustomed to banding together in times of crisis, from the United Flight 93 crash on Sept. 11, 2001, to the Quecreek mine rescue the following year.
“People are used to helping out neighbors that aren’t literally their neighbors,” Adams said.
Joey Dubics’ teammates have been especially supportive, he said. Members of the football team have been on site regularly. They’ve planted two donated trees in the park in Dubics’ honor.
One is a weeping willow. It stands near the trailer where Tom and Kris Dubics are staying, about 20 yards from the water’s edge. About 6 feet tall now, it will grow to tower about 100 feet, Adams said.
The recreation area has been closed since Tuesday, allowing only family, close friends and rescue workers through.
“Normally this time of day the place would be packed with swimmers and campers,” said Jaimie Miller, who works at the park.
The park plans to erect a plaque in honor of Joey Dubics, she said.
Everyone there has been 100 percent focused on helping the search, she said.
“There are other places to go camping, there are other places to go swimming, there are more important things to worry about,” Miller said.
Tom Dubics said the community’s support has kept his family going.
“Our faith is what’s getting us through this, but all of this generosity is what is making that faith last,” he said.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.