Hamilton police search for missing kayaker

Water rescue recovery investigation in the Great Miami River still on-going

Officials for the city of Hamilton said one person was clinging to a kayak with another kayak floating freely next to him when crews arrived on scene at the Great Miami River Sunday afternoon. 

Deputy Chief Ken Runyan said two men were on the river going south under the High/Main Street bridge when their kayaks flipped. 

One of the men held onto a stick under the bridge when he noticed his friend struggling. He reportedly tried to reach him, but the other man went underwater. The man then saw a kayak and held onto it while he drifted down stream until he encountered another individual on a jet ski going south on the river, which took him to the shore where rescue units were waiting to evaluate him, Runyan said.

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The Hamilton Fire Department Water Rescue Team proceeded up the river for about an hour, and when they couldn’t find the friend, they dispatched the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team. 

Barry Moore, a resident of Middletown, said it was kind of scary when he first heard the news because he thought it could be their son out on the river.

Moore said his son wasn’t answering his phone, didn’t show up for work, and is around the same age as the lost kayaker. He later heard from his son, but said, “The river is unpredictable. A life vest will always help.”

The Hamilton Fire Department Water Rescue Team is still currently on the river, and will remain on it well into the night time, officials said. Assisting them was also Task Force 1, along with a boat of supplemental safety divers on hand, Ohio DNR, and a cadaver dog. 

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Neither of the males were experienced in kayaking, and no life jackets were worn.

“If you’re going to enjoy the water, just try to take all the precautions you can to be safe,” Runyan said. 

Police are withholding the names of the victims at this time, but identified them as two men, ages 29 and 35.

Runyan stated he would give one more update before they cease operations tonight. 

UPDATE @ 6:10 p.m.:

According to a tweet from Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit, "Search for reported missing kayaker on Great Miami River in Hamilton has transitioned & Butler County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team now leading recovery efforts."

We have a crew on the way, and will update this page when more information becomes available. 

FIRST REPORT:

A water rescue is underway in the Great Miami River in the city of Hamilton, Butler County dispatch confirmed.

Crews were dispatched around 3:10 p.m.

Two people were in a kayak when it flipped over; one person has been recovered and one was still missing around 5 p.m.

According to a tweet from Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, “Emergency Response Services and Taskforce 1 are responding to High/Main bridge for a possible drowning involving a subject in a kayak.”

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