SIDNEY, Ohio (WDTN) – A recovery operation continues for a man missing since a boating accident in Sidney Monday afternoon. Wednesday, the man who was first on the scene shared his firsthand account.
A 911 caller was biking through the park when he came upon the accident on the Great Miami River near Stolle Bridge.
Police reports indicate that four people were involved, but the caller said he only saw three people: one on the shores, one clinging to a boat, and a third floating down the river, unresponsive.
He says within minutes of his emergency call, first responders were on the scene.
“If I was there quicker, I could have called quicker. I don’t think it was necessarily on the cops that got there late, they were actually there pretty fast,” he said.
Search and rescue crews are now on their third day of looking for the fourth victim’s body.
The caller, who is from Shelby County, says the area where the group was boating can be dangerous.
“There’s a dam there, an overhead dam,” he says. “They’re really powerful if you get stuck in them. They tried to go over the overhead dam and it sucked them down.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is now issuing a warning for boaters this spring.
“It’s always important to be familiar with the areas that your boating or kayaking or canoing in. Just remember to scout ahead,” said Sgt. Sarah Genzman with the ODNR.
“Lowhead dams can trap a boat and trap a person With a recirculating current and it can present a dangerous situation for boaters as well as rescuers,” said Sgt. Genzman “It can actually pull a boat or a person into its current and recirculate them and it’s very difficult to float out of that because that current is holding you there.”
Sergeant Genzman says in addition to knowing your surroundings, wearing a life jacket is one of the most important ways to save lives while on the water.
“It helps keep your head out of the water if you fall into cold water. It can help keep you warm it can keep you afloat especially if you’re experiencing swimming fatigue,” said Sgt. Genzman.
He says it was even more dangerous due to recent rain.
“Even with the water being low the dam is a problem, but they hit the dam when the water was like 3 or 4-foot above average,” he said.
Two of the victims were taken to Wilson Health. Their conditions are unknown.