DEVOLA - A 21-year-old Reno man was believed to have drowned in the Muskingum River on Sunday afternoon.
Benjamin Jay Miller, of Hadley Hollow Road, was swimming with three friends near a sand bar just north of Devols Dam at Devola, just north of Marietta, when the accident occurred around 4:45 p.m. Sunday.
"He was in the middle of the river and his friends tried to rescue him, but he disappeared under the water," said J.J. Bichard, assistant chief of the Devola Volunteer Fire Department.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Rescue personnel from at least six area fire departments search for a drowning victim in the Muskingum River just downstream from the Devols Dam spillway Sunday.
Rescue personnel from at least six area fire departments responded to the location near River Road at the intersection with Devols Dam Road.
Boats and rescue workers were searching for Miller's body within a quarter-mile area downstream of the Devols Lock and Dam around 5:45 p.m. Sunday.
"He apparently went down in the channel where the current is stronger," said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, who noted that the water was only about chest deep on either side of the narrow river channel.
The sheriff said rescuers first checked any log jams or other debris floating near the riverbanks, then began walking through the river as far as possible to try and locate the body. Mincks said divers were available, but may not be needed as the river level was fairly low.
Fire companies from Devola, Marietta, Warren, Oak Grove, Reno and Williamstown assisted in the search efforts.
Rescue personnel had still not located Miller's body as of 10 p.m. Sunday.