Baby drowned during boating trip with family on Mad River in
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019
By: WHIO News Staff, John Bedell, Riley Newton
Crews search for infant reported in river in Champaign
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — UPDATE @ 2:43 p.m.:The family of a
1-year-old baby who drowned in Mad River Tuesday afternoon was on a trip with
Birch Bark Livery in Champaign County when the boat capsized. The baby,
identified as Miya Ye of Bellefontaine in an incident report, was with family
in two canoes and a kayak, according to a worker at the livery.
There were seven people total in the boats and they had
Coast Guard-approved life jackets, including one for the baby, the worker said.
Four adult life jackets and three boats were included as a part of the incident
report. However, there is no mention of any child life jacket.
The worker added that he told the family multiple times to
get out of the river at the Ohio 55 bridge. News Center 7 found a sign hanging
from the bridge that said “Birch Bark Canoe Livery state Route 55 take out. All
trips end here.” The family signed waivers before the trip like all of the
livery’s customers, the worker said.
An employee was driving to pick the family up at the bridge
Tuesday and when he got there first responders were already on scene for search
and rescue efforts, according to the worker.
News Center 7 is still working to learn more about what led
up to the moments when Ye drowned in the river near Ohio 55 Tuesday afternoon. A
woman called 9-1-1 saying the baby fell into the water from her lap while the
family was boating and coming up on an area in the river with fallen trees and
The family hit a “strainer” while in a boat and capsized,
first responders said. When asked why there isn’t any signage warning people
about the water being dangerous, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Lt.
Travis Martin said the agency can’t put up signs. “We are considering adding
additional enforcement on the water way due to large numbers of incidents near
this area, but the ODNR can not post signage on the river because the river is
public,” he said. “We are also not allowed to place signage on private
property, like the river bank.”
News Center 7’s John Bedell spoke with an experienced boater
who spoke more about strainers and why they can be so dangerous. “Typically
it’s a tree, but it can be anything that’s in the river that the river is flowing
through, over, under,” Cliff Fawcett of the Massie Creek Paddlers said. “And
it’s just like a strainer you would use when you make spaghetti. If you pour
the spaghetti in the thing the water goes through and the stuff stays out. “So
you’ll get stuff, debris that will get struck in the strainer or a boat, kayak
or canoe, a raft will get stuck in that.”
Martin said that any river system will have some strainers. “It’s
pretty common, especially when you have a lot of rain like we have,” he said.
“We ask the public to be conscious of this and always wear a life jacket.” Fawcett
added that the stretch of the river where the family was boating is challenging
because of how narrow it is. There’s less room for people to avoid debris like
trees in the river even if they can see it coming.
The incident was the fourth water rescue call in three weeks
for that area of the river, said German Twp. Fire/EMS Chief Tim Holman.
A Springfield man who’s been kayaking and canoeing for over
two decades said he doesn’t boat through that part of Mad River, even though
he’s familiar with the water. “[My wife and I] actually get out of our boats
and walk it across there because it is dangerous,” said Gregory Schutte. “Most
people I know do that ... We see things that tip right there all the time.”
News Center 7 couldn’t find any signs posted near that part
of the river that would warn people about the difficult water. Schutte
suggested that any boaters research unfamiliar water before getting in a kayak
or canoe. He also said that people should bring a life jacket, or at least keep
one within arm’s reach.
Schutte visits Mad River during his lunch when he has a few
minutes to squeeze in some fishing. But after Tuesday’s incident, fishing
wasn’t on his mind. “I couldn’t even get the fishing rod out of the truck,” he
said. “It just didn’t feel right.”
Baby perishes in Mad River accident
Christopher Selmek |
Urbana Daily Citizen
MAD RIVER TWP. — A
group’s recreational outing to Mad River turned deadly Tuesday afternoon near
the bridge at state Route 55. According to information from the Champaign
County Sheriff’s Office, several people were riding in a flotation watercraft
south of the bridge at approximately 2:16 p.m. when it hit a large piece of
tree debris known as a “strainer” in the river and the flotation craft
capsized. Among those dumped into the current around the strainer was an
18-month-old baby, who fell from her mother’s lap and was unable to be saved
from the rushing water. The baby was retrieved by recovery crews about three
hours later, but lifesaving efforts failed. Others involved were rescued from
the river by deputies and fire/EMS members.
The incident began as
a rescue mission by area fire/EMS agencies, and ultimately a dive team was
called in. After recovery crews located the baby, CPR was initiated and she was
transported to Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital, where she was pronounced
deceased. Identifications of the baby and others involved in the mishap are
being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident remains under
investigation by the sheriff’s office and the Champaign County coroner.
According to the Ohio
Division of State Parks and Watercraft, strainers are found on rivers and
streams. They are dangerous obstacles that allow river water to pass through
but solid objects like boats and people, to be caught underneath. A tree or
fallen branch is the most common type of strainer. The obstacles also occur in
the form of overhanging tree branches and limbs, log jams and flooded islands.
The obstacles tend to trap people underneath as tons of water pressure cross
through the debris. Once caught up in a strainer, it is difficult to escape
even if the victim is wearing a life jacket.
Infant dies after being recovered from the Mad River in
By Dayton Daily News Staff
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — An infant recovered from a debris area in
the Mad River Tuesday evening has died despite CPR and other life-saving
measures, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office said. A female canoer called
9-1-1 about 2:16 p.m. to report that her infant had fallen into the water from
her lap and disappeared under the rushing water as she and other members of her
party, floating down the river, approached the area of several fallen trees and
debris south of state Route 55.
A dive team and several other rescue crews were requested to
Ohio 55 at the Mad River, just east of Ohio 560, after receiving reports that
the infant went into the river. At least seven people were on a flotation
device when it reached a strainer (a large tree placed in the water more than
halfway across the river) and overturned, German Twp. Fire/EMS Chief Tim Holman
said. Everybody on the device -- including the infant -- was dumped into the
Chief Holman said the victims were “freelancing” because
that part of the Mad River where the strainer is set up is too dangerous for
canoes, flotation devices and rescuers. The survivors were able to make their
way to a small island next to the strainer, approximately a half-mile south of
state Route 55, where they were rescued, the chief said. No one was wearing a
life preserver and a language barrier exists between the victims and the
Rescuers located the child in a debris area just after 5
p.m. and began CPR, which continued as they rushed the child to a waiting
ambulance. Life-saving measures continued at Mercy Hospital in Urbana, but were
unsuccessful. Holman said neither the age nor gender of the infant is known. “When
it’s a kid, it takes a toll on everybody,” Holman said. “We live with that on a
daily basis. ”Two of the seven rescued people suffered minor injuries. All of
them were taken to Mercy Memorial Hospital. German Twp. fire has had to perform
three rescues on that part of the river recently. “The water is deep there and
the current is fast,” Holman said. The sheriff's office and the county
coroner's office are continuing their investigation of this incident.