Accident Database

Report ID# 3619

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description

NPS morning report: no indication of watercraft type, NO PFD

NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL RIVER Missing Boater’s Body Found After Five Day Search On Wednesday, May 16th, a 911 dispatch center notified patrol rangers that a boating accident had been reported on the river and that a man was missing. After interviews with witnesses, rangers determined that the accident had occurred in Silo Rapid, located about two-and-a-half miles upriver from Stone Cliff campground. Hasty search teams in six boats searched both river banks for a distance of four miles downstream from where the victim was last seen.

The muddy river, flowing nine feet above normal for this time of year due to heavy rains, made search operations difficult. The initial search was suspended at dark. From Thursday until Sunday, crews worked the pools and eddies below the accident site with drags, sonar, and probe poles. Volunteers assisted in the search by combing the river banks and working eddies from the bank side. All commercial rafting and fishing companies were notified of the incident.

On Saturday night there was a one foot rise in the river level and on early Sunday morning the members of a commercial fishing trip reported a body floating about three-and-a-half miles downriver from the accident site. The victim, Bradley Alexander, was recovered by river rangers. His body has been sent to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy. Oak Hill Fire Department water rescue, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Jan-Care Ambulance, a cadaver dog team, the Fayette County Sheriff's Department and numerous volunteers assisted with the search efforts. Eric Oaks served as the incident commander.

Jeff West, Chief Ranger

UPDATE: THURMOND (WVVA)-- The body of a man who went missing while boating in the New River has been found dead. The body of 41-year-old Bradley Alexander Sr. was found just below the Thurmond Bridge Sunday around Noon. According to Jeff West of the National Park Service, a commercial fishing guide spotted the body Sunday morning. That is when the National Park Service went in and recovered the body. Alexander first went missing this past Wednesday evening while boating with his son. Alexander is was said to be not wearing a live vest when he fell in.

UPDATE: THURMOND (WVVA) - The search for a man missing on the New River has resumed Friday morning after being suspended for the night. National Park Service officials told WVVA News on Thursday that the search for 41-year-old Bradley Alexander Sr. of Fayetteville had been changed from a rescue to recovery mission. Alexander is described as an avid boater. Ranger Jeff West said the search is focusing on banks of slow-moving areas. Searchers are using SONAR technology among other tools in their recovery efforts.

ORIGINAL REPORT: THURMOND (WVVA) - The search continues this morning for a missing boater in Fayette County. A man in his 40s and his adult son were on a boat in the New River Wednesday when, the son says, his father fell in the river without wearing a life jacket. The son tells WVVA News he tried to go in and rescue his father, but he says the current was too strong and he swam back to shore, losing sight of his father. Witnesses say they heard a man yelling for help somewhere downstream.

he National Park Service is heading up the search and rescue mission. The search was suspended at 9 p.m. Wednesday and will resume this morning.


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