Bill Lackey/Staff

Infant dies after being recovered from the Mad River in Champaign County

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A female canoer called 9-1-1 about 2:16 p.m. to report that her infant had fallen into the water from her lap and disappeared under the rushing water as she and other members of her party, floating down the river, approached the area of several fallen trees and debris south of state Route 55. 

A dive team and several other rescue crews were requested to Ohio 55 at the Mad River, just east of Ohio 560, after receiving reports that the infant went into the river. 

At least seven people were on a flotation device when it reached a strainer (a large tree placed in the water more than halfway across the river) and overturned, German Twp. Fire/EMS Chief Tim Holman said.

Everybody on the device -- including the infant -- was dumped into the river.

Chief Holman said the victims were “freelancing” because that part of the Mad River where the strainer is set up is too dangerous for canoes, flotation devices and rescuers. 

The survivors were able to make their way to a small island next to the strainer, approximately a half-mile south of state Route 55, where they were rescued, the chief said. No one was wearing a life preserver and a language barrier exists between the victims and the rescuers.

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Rescuers located the child in a debris area just after 5 p.m. and began CPR, which continued as they rushed the child to a waiting ambulance. 

Life-saving measures continued at Mercy Hospital in Urbana, but were unsuccessful. The child’s body was later taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office for an autopsy. 

Holman said neither the age nor gender of the infant is known.

“When it’s a kid, it takes a toll on everybody,” Holman said. “We live with that on a daily basis.”

Two of the seven rescued people suffered minor injuries. All of them were taken to Mercy Memorial Hospital.

German Twp. fire has had to perform three rescues on that part of the river recently.

“The water is deep there and the current is fast,” Holman said. 

The sheriff's office and the county coroner's office are continuing their investigation of this incident.

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more. 

Rescuers search for baby in river

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