Body recovered from Tygart River following Friday night incident


GRAFTON—The body of a man was retrieved from the Tygart River Sunday morning, after the individual entered the water on Friday night in an attempt to evade Grafton Police Officers.

According to Grafton Police Deputy Chief Michael Kochka, officers with the department responded to a shots-fired called on Fannie Street, at approximately 7:45 p.m., Friday night.

Upon their arrival, law enforcement officials attempted to stop two suspects in the incident, when one, a white male believed to be in his 20s, fled on foot. The male was ordered to stop by police, but he continued in a foot pursuit.

The male ran from Fannie Street, down onto Grand Street and made his way under the Southside Bridge, located between Grand Street and Maple Avenue.

Officers ordered the male to stay where he was, but in an effort to get away, he entered the river and attempted to swim across.

According to Kochka, the subject, not far from the shoreline but being carried downstream some, began to struggle and was seen going under the water. The male was not seen resurfacing.

Deputy Chief Kochka alerted the Harrison-Taylor County 911 Dispatch Center who called upon the Grafton Fire Department Dive Team to assist in search and rescue efforts. The department was dispatched to the area at approximately 7:55 p.m.

The Taylor County Emergency Medical Squad was also called to the scene.

The bridge was barricaded with emergency vehicles and shut down to traffic to limit the number of individuals in the area.

Once on scene, the fire department, which houses the dive team for Taylor County, launched one of their boats and put four divers in the water, while other members assisted from the shoreline.

According to Grafton Firefighter Jarrett Cunningham, members from Preston County and Winfield District (Marion County) Fire Departments assisted in the search and rescue efforts. The Grafton Fire Department’s K-9 Search and Rescue team was also on scene to help find the subject.

Crews worked into the early morning hours, attempting to locate the body. Fog coming off the river made the search efforts more difficult, as it limited visibility.

Efforts continued throughout Saturday, but it was not until the following morning that they would prove successful.

According to Cunningham, the Grafton Fire Department Dive Team, with assistance from the Belington Fire Department Dive and Recovery Unit, were able to locate and recover the body shortly before 10:00 a.m., Sunday morning.

Deputy Chief Kochka reported that the name of the individual is being withheld to allow for proper notification of the deceased’s family.

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