Search To Resume In New River For Third Drowning Victim Two bodies have been recovered and the search continues for one other fisherman believed to have drowned in the New River in Summers County. National Park Service Chief River Ranger Jeff West says the body of Paul Malone, 23, of Lester was found at just before noon Monday. The body was just a few hundred feet from where a 24-foot john boat capsized Sunday evening near Meadow Creek.
West says a second body was found at around 3 p.m. 100 yards downriver from where the first victim was located. The victim has been identified as Sam Acord, 49, of Richmond, VA. The search continues for Dean Halsey of Lester. Jeff Acord of Sandstone and Daniel Malone of Lester swam to shore Sunday evening.
"None of the five men were apparently wearing life jackets. Two of them were able to swim to shore," West said. "They went through the first shoal just upriver from River Chase Campground at Meadow Creek. Somewhere in the shoal, something happened and the boat turned over." Crews searched the river until dark on Sunday night and returned at first light Monday morning.
The Corps of Engineers has reduced the flow from Bluestone Dam in hopes of lowering the river level to aid in the search. At the time of the accident, West says the river was running between 9,600 CFS and 10,000 CFS. "The divers reported being beat up pretty badly when they got down on the bottom," said West. "Normally when you're on the bottom of a river the current's not too bad, but they felt like it was pretty grim."
The stretch of the Upper New River is typically forgiving and is one of the few stretches that could safely accommodate a Jon Boat. West is unsure if the craft was rated to hold five people, but he is sure they were not wearing floatation devices. "I would strongly encourage folks when they are on the river, wear your life jacket," he said.