Body of Stephen Crouch, 71, missing rower found, brother says
MARTIN COUNTY — The body of missing rower Stephen Crouch, 71, last seen leaving the Treasure Coast Rowing Club, was found Saturday not far from where his 27-foot rowing vessel turned up, Crouch’s brother said Monday.
Martin County Sheriff’s officials reported last week they were helping the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in searching for Crouch, of Palm City.
He last was seen about 6:45 a.m. on Jan. 13 leaving the rowing club facility at Charlie Leighton Park, the sheriff’s office said. He headed south.
An FWC report states Crouch was on a 27-foot, 2020 Fluidesign rowing vessel. The boat was found later in the area of Hosford Park, which is by Kanner Highway and Southeast Cove Road.
Crouch’s brother, Don Crouch, 74, on Monday said the younger Crouch was found Saturday about 200 feet from where the boat was recovered.
Carol Lyn Parrish, FWC spokesperson, said via email that FWC and the sheriff’s office on Saturday recovered the body of a male in the St. Lucie River. Identification of the body is pending from the medical examiner’s office.
The recovery was not publicly disclosed by FWC until Monday. Parrish did not immediately respond to questions.
Don Crouch, of Islamorada, said Stephen Crouch was the middle of three brothers.
Stephen Crouch was “a man of few words, but they were powerful,” Don Crouch said.
“He had a tremendous sense of humor,” Don Crouch said.
Stephen Crouch retired from the Northrop Grumman Corporation after a long career as an aeronautical engineer, his brother said. He was married and had a daughter.
Don Crouch said his brother volunteered at an animal shelter and walked dogs.
Stephen Crouch had a passion for exercise, and was competitive in rowing.
“They handicap you by age, you get more time taken off because you’re older,” Don Crouch said. “He could compete straight up, he didn’t need that handicap.”
Prior to rowing, Stephen Crouch was into cycling.
“He’d go on these 100-mile bicycle trips,” Don Crouch said.
Stephen Crouch recently took up painting, and Don Crouch commented on a particular painting of a bird.
“He entered in … some kind of contest,” Don Crouch said. “He came in third place. He had another talent that we never knew.”
The day after Stephen Crouch went missing, Stefanie Falkner, rowing director and juniors head coach at the Treasure Coast Rowing Club, said Stephen Crouch had been a club member for nearly two decades.
She said he was on his own private boat, upgrading recently from an older vessel. "He was comfortable in it,” Falkner said.
She said the boats are narrow, and about 3 to 4 inches above the water.
Don Crouch said his brother’s glasses and Fitbit, a fitness tracking device, were recovered. The Fitbit still was working.
What may have happened remains unclear.
“That’s the whole thing,” Don Crouch said. “We don’t know.”
Michelle Weiler, president of the Treasure Coast Rowing Club, said Monday she knew Stephen Crouch for at least 15 years.
She said he rowed almost every day, and was skilled and competitive.
“He knew rowing. There’s no safety issue,” Weiler said. “He was very experienced and he knew how to get in and out of a boat. He knew what to do if a boat capsized.”
She said he got a new rowing vessel, known as a shell or scull, about a year ago.
Weiler said Stephen Crouch was very involved in the club.
“Any time we needed anything, he was there,” Weiler said. “Every fundraiser, every event, every cleanup, all you had to do was say what time and he would show up.”
Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. He also covers strange, wild and weird Treasure Coast crimes in “Off The Beat.” Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or reach him by phone at 772-692-8936. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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