Body of missing Saugerties man found in Esopus Creek

Roman Esturdo Najera Vasquez

Police divers in the Esopus Creek recovered the dead body of 31-year-old Roman Esturdo Najera Vasquez at 10:30 a.m.  March 3. He last near seen at 7 p.m. February 19 and was reported missing on February 25.

“The preliminary results of the autopsy performed earlier this week is pointing toward an accidental drowning. However, that is only preliminary,” said Saugerties Police Chief Sinagra. “There is no indication as of now that there was any foul play was involved. It will be several months before we get any results back from toxicology. We have indications right now that alcohol may have been a factor.”

When Forest Rangers came to help police pre map an embankment near Washburn Terrace, where Vasquez spent much of his free time, two articles of clothing were recovered. K-9 “Biosensor” Abigail, trained to detect gases coming off decaying tissue and handled by Officer Jen Culver, picked up an initial scent on Thursday, but was unable to thoroughly investigate the site until Saturday due to nor’easter weather conditions.


“When we were on the west end of Washburn, the dog picked up scents from the cemetery. That’s how sensitive they are,” said Sinagra.

According to Sinagra, police were able to find the body in the water “within 15 minutes” after the dog indicated that it smelled a body from a boat on the river on Saturday when they were able to return to the site.

The Ulster County Fire Department, Ulster Hose, New York State Forest Rangers and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, who provided boats and divers for the search, assisted police in the search.