Bluestone River Drowning
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NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL RIVER
Fisherman Drowns In Bluestone River
On Saturday, August 3rd, Michael Jennings, 29, of Jumping Branch, West Virginia, drowned in the Bluestone River. According to witness Robert Harvey, also of Jumping Branch, the two men were floating down the river fishing – Harvey in a raft and Jennings in an inner tube. The two became separated late in the afternoon, with Harvey proceeding further down the river. When Harvey reached the takeout at Lilly, he looked back up stream for his friend and saw what appeared to be Jennings’ inner tube floating upside down in the river. Harvey ran up the river bank, calling and looking for his friend, but was unable to find him.
Harvey returned to his vehicle, parked at Lilly, and called 911 to report that his friend was missing. Rangers responded along with personnel from a number of state and local agencies. A search of the river was conducted until dark with no success. On Sunday, an organized search of the river was conducted near the point last scene.
Forty-seven searchers from 14 different agencies and organizations participated in the search effort, which was organized under ICS. Ranger CW Mitchem served as the IC for the incident. Rangers employed boats equipped with sonar to establish priority areas for the search, and local volunteer dive teams set up grid searches of the river bottom. Divers found and recovered his body in one of the high priority areas just before 2 p.m. Jennings was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.
Contact Information Name: Gary Hartley, Chief Ranger