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Jacob L Heath 1990 - 2005

Jacob Lee Heath of Oil City, Venango County, PA was born on October 21, 1990 in Oil City, and died at age 14 years old on May 7, 2005 in Oil City. Jacob Heath was buried at Grove Hill Cemetery 212 Bishop Ave, in Oil City.
Jacob Lee Heath
Oil City, Venango County, PA 16301
October 21, 1990
Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania, 16301, United States
May 7, 2005
Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania, 16301, United States
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Jacob Lee Heath's History: 1990 - 2005

Uncover new discoveries and connections today by sharing about people & moments from yesterday.
  • Introduction

    Jacob Lee Heath was born October 21st, 1990 in Oil City, Pennsylvania to Barbara Ann Neidich (1968 - 2014), who was also a native of Pennsylvania. His father had died in 2003, two years before Jacob died. Barbara was married three times and Jacob was born into her third marriage. He had two siblings - a brother and a sister - and two half-brothers from his mother's first marriage. During a night out with friends, "Jake" Heath tragically leaped off a bridge, reportedly prompted by a dare, alongside another boy. Despite his friend surviving, Jake drowned in the incident, a mere 14 years old at the time. Further details of the incident and the subsequent search efforts for his body can be found at this link: Bridge a place to party, and now to die. Two days later, another short article was published, describing how Jacob's body had not yet been found. See Teen missing after jump. Finally, almost ten excruciating days after Jake jumped on a dare, his body was found in the Allegheny River by local fishermen. An autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was drowning. See Teen's Body Found.
  • 10/21


    October 21, 1990
    Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania 16301, United States
  • Ethnicity & Family History

    Jake was Caucasian, the 4th generation of Pennsylvanians on his mother's side. His maternal grandmother, in fact, had grown up in the same city, Oil City, in which Jacob was born, raised, and died. As a teenager, she had even partied on the same bridge from which Jacob jumped, although his grandmother had never considered jumping off the bridge herself.
  • Nationality & Locations

    A native of Oil City, Pennsylvania, Jacob was raised in Oil City and he died at the age of 14 on May 7, 2005, in his hometown, after jumping off a bridge into a shallow river, responding to a dare. Jacob is buried in Grove Hill Cemetery 212 Bishop Ave, in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania.
  • Early Life & Education

    Jacob was a student at Oil City Middle School when he jumped off a local bridge on a dare. His friend, who jumped with him, survived and managed to reach the shoreline by himself. Oil City Middle School is located in Oil City, Pennsylvania and is a public school that is a part of the Oil City Area School District, serving the local area.
  • Personal Life & Family

    Jacob's maternal grandmother, Carolyn Bills, was also a native of Oil City and as a teenager, she also partied on the bridge where Jacob died. However, she never thought about jumping off the bridge and she thought that Jacob only jumped because it was a dare. According to his grandmother, "If his friend did it, he would do it," she said, her voice choking. "I can even see him joking and laughing when he did it." Jacob died only 2 years after his father had died in an auto accident on April 1, 2003. Since that time, "Jake" had been living with his paternal grandfather. According to friends and family, he loved to be outside and enjoyed playing basketball and riding his bike.
  • 05/7


    May 7, 2005
    Death date
    accidental drowning
    Cause of death
    Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania 16301, United States
    Death location
  • Gravesite & Burial

    Funeral date
    Grove Hill Cemetery 212 Bishop Ave, in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania 16301, United States
    Burial location
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3 Memories, Stories & Photos about Jacob

Teen's Body Found
Several fishermen out for the day on the Allegheny River Sunday afternoon found the body of a dead teen floating offshore in Emlenton, Venango County.

The body was found about 30 miles downriver from the spot where an Oil City boy, Jacob Heath, 14, jumped from a railroad bridge into the water May 7. He was last seen calling for help and thrashing in the water. Oil City emergency responders spend hours over the next several days searching for Heath using divers, helicopters, underwater cameras and dogs - to no avail.

Heath and several friends had been on the abandoned railroad bridge an Heath and another boy jumped. That boy was uninjured in his 40-foot jump into the relatively shallow water. In the area near the bridge, the bottom of the river was easily visible, and rescue workers estimated it was no more than 10 feet deep.

Though officials are still working on a positive identification of the body that was found, it was described as that of a male, 14 -16 years old, with dark hair. "We don't have any other reports of people missing," said state police Trooper Mark Swartfager.

An autopsy was done yesterday, and the cause of death was drowning, said Venango County Coroner H. John Greggs. He expected to make a positive identification on the body today.

- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Tuesday, May 17, 2005 on page 12,
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Teen missing after jump
One teenager who jumped with a friend from a bridge over the Allegheny River was still missing late last night. Jacob Heath, 14, and a friend jumped from the Siverly Wye Bridge Saturday. Heath, a student at Oil City Middle School, did not resurface after the jump. His friend, who has not been identified, managed to reach shore.

Heath has not been found.

- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Monday, May 9, 2005 on page 2.
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Bridge a place to party, and now to die
OIL CITY, Pennsylvania

Partying on the rusted and graffiti-covered Wye Bridge is a rite of passage for many in this old, once-rich city. For at least three generations, the abandoned railroad trestle that linked Oil City's south side with the north has been a favorite hangout for teens. On Saturday, a 14-year-old who was on the bridge with a group of friends reportedly accepted a dare to dive off the side. Another boy, who jumped at the same time, survived the 40-foot drop into the swift Allegheny River below, but Jacob Heath presumably did not. He was last seen thrashing in the 50-degree water and calling for help about 5 p.m. Saturday. Officials believe Heath drowned.

"The railroad bridge up there just has an attraction to kids," said Heath's maternal grandmother, Carolyn Bills. "As a teenager, I was up on that bridge." Pausing, she added, "I never dreamed of jumping off." Describing her grandson as happy-go-lucky, Bills said she wasn't surprised he would jump off. "If his friend did it, he would do it," she said, her voice choking. "I can even see him joking and laughing when he did it."

The bridge, which has two tracks on it, included a spur for train switching. Now, though, it's in disrepair. One end of the bridge was once protected by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, but most of the fence is missing. At the other end of the bridge is a concrete jersey barrier that is the canvas for many different colors and types of spray paint, but it doesn't do much to stop people from crossing the bridge. "Really, if they're not going to use it, they should get rid of it," Bills said.

Railings along the sides can easily be ducked by adventurous teens. Those who want to jump from a lesser height can climb down onto the bridge's concrete supports, reducing the fall by about 10 feet. In an effort to discourage any further tragedies, someone had now spray-painted these words on the concrete walkway of the bridge: "Jumpers remember May 7, 2006. Jake RIP."

"When I was a kid, we used to jump," said Ed Knox, 34, who was out searching for Heath with two friends yesterday. Knox was 21 when he jumped off the bridge his first and only time. When he did it, about 10 of his friends joined him. "Once was enough," Knox said. "(Though) there was a lot more water than there is now." Yesterday, rescue workers used binoculars to search under trees, along the shoreline and under brush and debris in the river. "If it was a cop's kid or a rich kid, they'd be out here searching 24/7," said Traci De Arment, a young woman who also was searching yesterday.

Captain Rick Duarte of the Oil City Fire Department said his firefighters and other volunteers searched all day Sunday, and used every available resource. Fourteen divers, water-search dogs, and rescue workers in boats canvassed about 1,00 yards of the river, trying to find Heath's body. They used underwater cameras, and helicopters flew overhead, searching the shallow depths of the river. At its deepest spot - near an ice-containment system made up of large buoys - the river is only about 14 feet deep, Duarte said. "It's our assumption he floated into that", he said. Rescuers spent 10 hours searching around the ice containment system on Sunday and returned for more yesterday. Though the search was scaled back significantly, firefighters in a rescue boat went back to the buoys, again using an underwater camera to see if they could spot Heath's body.

Duarte estimates the river is from 2 to 10 feet deep in most places. It is quick-moving in that area; the current was about f mph on Sunday. "He could be 50 miles downstream (though) I doubt it," Duarte said. "Even if you got in 4 feet of water, you probably couldn't get your feet under you to stop yourself." Typically, he added the body of a drowning victim is found within 50 feet of where it goes under. From the bridge where Heath jumped, the river bottom is easily visible, including the rocks, sticks and debris that litter it. "They can see 90 percent of the area from the air," he said.

Ward Wise, a 14 year old friend of Heath, sat along the peaceful river yesterday in Oil City's Justice Park. He and a friend tossed handfuls of gravel into the river, watching up and down its banks to see if they could spot anything. "I'm hoping he's alive but it doesn't seem like it," said Wise, who just a few weeks ago moved to New Castle. Wise was surprised when he heard Heath jumped into the river. "I never thought he would," Wise said. "He just didn't seem like the type." Nearby, Heath's grandmother sat in her blue minivan, staring out at the river. "There's just not much you can do," she said. Heath's family has had a difficult time in the last few years. His father died in a motor vehicle accident on April 1, 2003. Since then, Heath has been living with his paternal grandfather.

The teen loved to be outside and enjoyed playing basketball and riding his bike. He rode his bike to the railroad bridge Saturday. DeArment called the railroad bridge a "big party hole." Near the tracks sits a recently used fire pit and the box from a case of beer. "I think kids jump off that bridge more than anyone knows," Duarte said.

- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10 May 2005, Tuesday, pages 1 and 7.
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Jacob Heath's Family Tree & Friends

Jacob Heath's Family Tree


Jacob's Friends

Friends of Jacob Friends can be as close as family. Add Jacob's family friends, and his friends from childhood through adulthood.
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