A month and a half after a dive team found Ethan Kazmerzak’s car and remains in a Franklin County pond in October, a battle is brewing over the $100,000 reward in the case.
Jared Leisek and Sam Ginn, two Oregon-based divers who specialize in recovering vehicles underwater, found the car. They have a YouTube channel called “Adventures with Purpose.” The group traveled to the area twice to search for Ethan and documented it in videos released on their youtube channel.
Now, the group says it is considering suing to get the reward.
Shortly after Kazmerzak went missing after a night out with friends in September 2013, a group of five anonymous donors created a $20,000 reward for any information leading to his location or safe return. It was upped to $100,00 in 2015.
According to the terms of the reward, it was valid through the end of 2015 and could be extended by those putting up the reward money.
The anonymous donors say it expired in 2015, but as recently as September 2020, Hampton Police Chief Robert Schaefer told reporters it was still available. Schaefer declined to comment on when the reward was last renewed.
Leisek said he did not pursue the case because of the large reward but said he and his team feel they are owed that money.
Leisek said he and his team are exploring their legal options, including possibly suing for breach of contract.
The claim is that by allowing the $100,000 reward flyers to remain within the community, along with press confirming annually that the $100,000 reward was still active as late as September 2020, no notification to our organization after the viewing of our first video on October 2nd, nor any word on any expiration of any reward while we were in town, the $100,000 is/was an active contract the day we found Ethan.
Leisek said rewards and donations are how his group funds their searchers and allows them to purchase new gear.
“We only ask that what was offered to be honored to uphold the integrity of all rewards across the nation,” said Leisek. “I’m sure they will know in their hearts what the right thing here is to do in knowing the efforts our organization put in, not only in bringing answers to your community but also in continuing our efforts throughout other communities across the nation to help other families.”
The reward was not offered by the Kazmerzak family themselves.
However, the family has made a smaller donation to ‘Adventures with Purpose” as a show of appreciation for their work.
Legal experts say there are grounds for the case, but it will be focused on the question of whether or not the reward was still valid after seven years.
KTIV’s sister station, KWWL, reached out to some of the donors on Wednesday, but they declined to comment citing the potential lawsuit.