Hamilton police identify owner of truck from which man ran and fled to Great Miami River

Incident started as traffic crash Saturday night.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Butler County Emergency Response Services and other teams have suspended the search for a person who reportedly fled a vehicle crash and jumped into the Great Miami River in Hamilton.

Recovery operations were suspended Thursday, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. After several days of searching, sonar scans of the river did not locate any other viable targets.

Search and recovery efforts will resume as new information becomes available, according to the sheriff.

While the search the river search was underway for a man that witnesses said drove a pickup truck into a bridge on North Third Street near the power substation at 9:50 p.m. Saturday, Hamilton police have investigated to determine the person’s identity.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said detectives feel certain the man who is the owner of the wrecked truck is the person witnesses and officers say went in the river. The 2006 Dodge Ram belongs to a Hamilton man, according to the police report.

It was dark when the incident occurred, but witnesses who saw the man running from the crash and go over the guardrail identified the person after looking at a photo lineup that included the truck owner, according to Bucheit.

“And his mother has not heard from him since then. He has a teenage child with a birthday that he didn’t show up for,” the chief said. The man had been having some mental and life issues shortly before the crash, according to detectives.

Officers and firefighters say they saw the man in the river, “and at some point they didn’t see him. They assume he went under.”

The body may not have been found yet because it is caught on debris and was washed down the river by the rain on Sunday.

A female 911 caller told dispatchers about the crash, saying the pickup was “flying.”

“They have to be hurt,” she said. “It was a big pickup truck and he flew beside me and crossed in front of me and hit the bridge head-on.”

Someone in the background yelled “he’s out.” Then the caller said the man was by the power station crossing the road, running.

“He flipped head-first over the guardrail at the power station in the river where the walking trail is,” the caller said.

Another caller told dispatchers, ““He pulled out in front of traffic flying and went off the road.”

The crash report says the truck was northbound on North Third, struck the east side curb going up on the sidewalk, then struck the guardrail on the bridge for about 20 feet, and left the sidewalk onto the side of the road through the grass. Then the truck continued north though the grass, striking another guardrail on the east side in front of the power station at 990 North Third St.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office searched with rescue boats and a helicopter. Search dogs also worked during the recovery efforts. The search went from the Black Street bridge to the Columbia bridge.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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