Search for missing man in Great Miami River paused for the day, transitioned to recovery operation

The search for a missing man who reportedly fell into the Great Miami River overnight has been suspended for the day and has transitioned to a recovery operation, according to the Dayton Fire Department.

Crews spent approximately three hours searching for the man near the West Monument Avenue bridge after a woman called 911 around 1:17 a.m.

“My boyfriend jumped in the river and he didn’t come back up and I haven’t seen him come back up,” a 911 caller told dispatch. “...He was just sitting there and the next thing I know he’s in the water and he was trying to get up. I don’t know if he accidentally fell in.”

The man’s family identified him as 36-year-old Cole Estes and asking for the public to call Dayton police if anyone saw him or had any information on what happened. He was last seen in the clothes he was photographed wearing, according to his family.

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During the initial search, Dayton fire deployed multiple boats and crews searched the riverbanks for Estes. They used thermal imaging devices, underwater and aerial drones and SONAR devices before suspending the search due to the weather.

The searched resumed around 8 a.m. with assistance from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, West Carrollton Fire Department, Five Rivers MetroParks, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Dayton and Wes Carrolton police.

Search crews battled with river being up as well as incoming weather.

“That just makes the current more difficult to navigate and makes the search more process more difficult,” said Dayton Fire Department Director and Chief Jeff Lykins.

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There were also crews downstream in case the man was swept further along by the current.

Lykins noted that swimming is not allowed in the river and advised anyone spending time on the water to wear a flotation device.

“Especially when the water’s up. It’s unpredictable,” he said. “There are a lot of strainers, a lot of debris [and] currents that from the top of the water you may not see. We don’t recommend anyone get in the water unless they have some training or they have personal flotation device or they’re in a group kayaking or some sort.”

The Dayton Fire Department will continue to re-evaluate operations at the scene, as well as monitor weather conditions, water levels and any additional information.

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