Body found in Great Miami River nearly week after man reportedly jumped in after crash

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Incident started as traffic crash Saturday night.

A body was recovered Thursday night from the Great Miami River, six days after a man reportedly fled a vehicle crash and jumped into the water in Hamilton.

A call was received about 5:52 p.m. that a body was floating near the Columbia Bridge. The Hamilton Fire Dept. recovered the body with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Services on the scene for assistance, according to Detective Janee Lambert, sheriff’s public information officer.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office confirmed the body is that of a male and an autopsy will be performed Friday.

A man called 911 and told dispatchers he was on the Great Miami River and “there is a body floating in the water.” He said it was south of the Columbia Bridge near the public boat launch. “Looks like a male.”

Recovery operations by the ERS team and others were suspended Thursday morning after several days of searches turned up nothing, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

While the river search was underway for a man — witnesses said a man drove a pickup truck into a bridge on North Third Street near the power substation at 9:50 p.m. Saturday — Hamilton police have investigated to determine the person’s identity.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said detectives feel certain a man who is the owner of the wrecked truck is the person witnesses and officers say went in the river. The 2006 Dodge Ram belongs to a Hamilton man, according to the police report.

It was dark when the incident occurred, but witnesses who saw the man running from the crash and go over the guardrail identified the person after looking at a photo lineup that included the truck owner, according to Bucheit.

“And his mother has not heard from him since then. He has a teenage child with a birthday that he didn’t show up for,” the chief said.

The man had been having some mental and life issues shortly before the crash, according to detectives.

Officers and firefighters say they saw the man in the river, “and at some point they didn’t see him. They assume he went under.”

A female 911 caller told dispatchers about the crash, saying the pickup was “flying.”

“They have to be hurt,” she said. “It was a big pickup truck and he flew beside me and crossed in front of me and hit the bridge head-on.”

Someone in the background yelled “he’s out.” Then the caller said the man was by the power station crossing the road, running.

“He flipped head-first over the guardrail at the power station in the river where the walking trail is,” the caller said.

The crash report says the truck was northbound on North Third, struck the east side curb going up on the sidewalk, then struck the guardrail on the bridge for about 20 feet, and left the sidewalk onto the side of the road through the grass. Then the truck continued north though the grass, striking another guardrail on the east side in front of the power station at 990 North Third St.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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