Crews search river after man jumps

Published 9:30 am Friday, November 18, 2011


ROME TOWNSHIP — Rescue crews were out this morning in an attempt to find a man who apparently jumped into the Ohio River in the early morning hours Friday.

At 1:30 a.m. Friday an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped a car with Ohio tags on County Road 107, near Elm Street, for running a red light. Identification was sought from the female driver and male passenger.

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“The male passenger fled on foot and the trooper gave initial chase,” said Capt. Carl Roark, Jackson District commander of the OSHP. “He lost sight of the subject.”

Forty minutes later as a canine search was conducted law enforcement officials heard cries for help coming from the river.

“The subject was 40 to 50 feet out and they identified that it was a person, but not identify that it was the same subject (as the passenger), but the probability was high,” Roark said. “Officers were yelling to get him to swim toward the shore.”

The swift current of the river pulled the subject out of sight of the officers. A trooper went into the river with a flotation device.

“He was unable to reach and recover him,” Roark said. “That trooper was treated with hypothermia and is all right.”

Two rescue boats were then deployed with thermal imaging devices to check around trees and in the water.

Joining that search was Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department that was called out around 2:30 a.m.

“It was really cold and the river was up, really up,” Chesapeake Chief Ed Webb said. “We had to contend with that. There was a tremendous amount of effort to locate this guy. The conditions were very dangerous due to how high the water was and you couldn’t see where you were stepping.”

Also called out were Cabell County EMS, Proctorville fire and police departments, Huntington Police Department and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver of the car was released at the time of the incident and was not at the scene during the overnight rescue attempt.

The name of the passenger is not being released at this time, Roark said.

Crews started a second search at 9 a.m.

“I would say the probability is high that this subject didn’t survive being out in the river in that condition,” Roark said. “The probability is high the subject went under. I hope he survived it and can answer for the minor infractions he may have committed later. But the probability is high it will be a recovery.”