Channel 10 TV, Columbus, OH
HANOVER TWP. -- The Licking County Sheriff confirmed a 22-year-old man went missing in Blackhand Gorge Sunday. According to Licking County Sheriff's Office Colonel Chad Dennis, the Newark man was with several friends on a raft floating down Blackhand Gorge when they reached Rock Dam. The man fell off the raft and went under.
According to Dennis, several people in the area tried to help the man but he never resurfaced. Witnesses said their attempts to reach him were thwarted by fast-moving water.
First responders also said the fast moving water hampered divers from entering the water. The call came into the 911 center about 4:15 p.m. Sunday. After several hours of searching, rescuers were unable to locate the man and suspended the search due to poor lighting. Additional search efforts will resume over the next few days.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources arrived on scene a little after 8 p.m. with a boat with sonar capabilities, according to Dennis.
Stay with 10TV and 10TV.com as this story develops.
Searchers have recovered the body of Newark man who Licking County Sheriff's deputies say fell from a raft into Blackhand Gorge on Sunday.
The body of 22-year-old James Krofft was recovered Tuesday.
Newark, OHIO ADVOCATE
HANOVER TOWNSHIP - The search to recover a man who is believed to have been pulled under the current in the Licking River continued Monday.
James Michael Krofft, 22, of Newark, was last seen Sunday floating on a raft in the Licking River near Rock Dam, off Claypool Road.
According to a 911 call made around 4:15 p.m. and obtained by The Advocate, Krofft fell off the raft and was pulled under by the current. The caller said he had tried to go into the water to help Krofft and two friends Krofft was with, but was unable to get to him because of the current.
Boats were used to search the Licking River Sunday night, but the fast water and the strong current prevented divers from safely being able to enter the water to search for Krofft.
The search was called off for the night around 9:30 p.m. and resumed around 10 a.m. Monday.
Boats from multiple jurisdictions, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, are being used in the search. Sonar is also being used to search the water.
Krofft's family held out hope for his rescue Monday. Family members waded into the river and were walking the wooded area to assist in the search effort.
Krofft's father, David Chandler, said his son may not be a good swimmer but he enjoys fishing and hunting. Chandler said he hadn't slept since receiving the news that his son was missing in the water. "We're never gonna stop until we find him," he said.
Chandler said Krofft has had close calls before as a child before and hopes his son will be able to pull through this.
Chandler said he had jumped in front of a vehicle to protect Krofft from a car when he was two years old.
"I'd give anything for my kids," he said.
Officials with ODNR, the Licking County Sheriff's Office and area fire departments were continuing to search Monday and planned to search over the next several days if Krofft is not found Monday.
Recent heavy rains have caused water levels to rise and the current to be strong.
Officials urge caution and discourage anyone without professional training from being in the river at this time.