911 caller on Ross Twp. fisherman’s drowning: ‘The current got him’

A 911 caller told Butler County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers his friend was swimming Saturday night in the Great Miami River when “the current got him and I have not saw him for five minutes.”

Later, the caller said the current was “way too strong” for him to enter the river.

“I couldn’t help him,” the caller said.

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Rodney Zehr, 47, of Ross Twp., was pulled from the river Sunday when he was found near the U.S 27 bridge, and he was not wearing a life jacket, said Ross Twp. police Chief Burton Roberts.

Crews arrived on the scene shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. Zehr’s fishing companion called 911 after Zehr attempted to swim to the other side of the river.

The pair were fishing on the Butler County side of the river; the other side is in Hamilton County.

Dive teams that attempted to find Zehr Saturday night returned to the scene Sunday morning, Colerain Twp. dispatchers said. The Butler County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Services Team (ERS) and the Task Force One Dive Team were called to the scene along with multiple other agencies.

“The river may look shallow in areas giving the illusion of a fun time but make no mistake swift currents and undertow can turn deadly in seconds,” Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones said in a statement.

Roberts said the river’s current is “very deceiving.”

He was thankful Zehr’s body was located so his family could get “closure.”

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