MIAMITOWN, Ohio – After two full days of searching, police and fire crews failed to find any clues into what happened to a 70-year-old man who jumped into the Great Miami River from the I-74 overpass.
Recovery operations resumed shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, but the efforts led by the fire departments in Miami Township and the Whitewater Township turned up little new information.
By early Saturday night the effort was called off.
The search began Friday afternoon when drivers saw the man jump into the river's fast current. At least four of them called 911.
"There's a guy climbing over the wall over the White Water River around the nine mile marker," the first caller said. "It's an old man with a blue PT Cruiser. There's a truck now stopping with him. He's got one leg over the wall."
Another driver told dispatch, "There's a gentleman on the Miami River Bridge that is climbing over it, an older gentleman, and I'm not sure what he's doing but it looks like he's going to fall in the river."
The man was waving in the river when he was spotted by a Hamilton County Sheriff's helicopter, but he soon disappeared under the strong currents, officials said.
Strong currents, debris and high water from this week's heavy rains hampered the search, which began about 12:50 p.m. The multi-agency search and rescue operation shut down portions of the U.S. 50 bridge for several hours before all lanes reopened just before 5 p.m.
Two Boone County Water Rescue boats and Colerain Township watercraft searched the river, and area fire crews scouted it from the banks, the I-74 overpass and the U.S. 50 bridge at Cleves.
Three hours later, Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency requested some units to terminate the search.
Police and fire units halted search efforts at about 5 p.m. Friday because of dangerous river conditions, cold water and the time that had passed since the victim was last seen, according to Steven Conn of the Colerain Twp. Fire Department.
He said the storms over the last couple of days made the rescue a dangerous situation.
"The amount of flow that we're facing right now with this river ... We have to do this the safest way possible and to do that it's very labor intensive," Conn said. "The fact that we have so much debris coming down here, it just compounds the danger immensely."
A new round of searching of the unidentified man is scheduled to commence Sunday morning.
(WCPO reporter Jason Law contributed to this report.)