Search for SUV resumes Thursday with Ohio BCI

Beth Sergent

April 16, 2014

POINT PLEASANT — The search for an SUV spotted floating in the Ohio River on Tuesday will resume Thursday morning with help from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI).

Point Pleasant Fire Chief Jeremy Bryant said divers with BCI will be on hand, along with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Department, Point Pleasant Fire Department and Point Pleasant Police Department (PPPD), Thursday, to search for the vehicle in the Ohio River just north of Riverfront Park. The search had been suspended due to poor weather conditions.

The Gallia County Sheriff’s Department was able to spot a large item under the water which is consistent with the size of a vehicle about 30 to 40 feet off the bank near the West Virginia side of the river, though no visual contact was made. This item was tagged and a dive team from the Cottageville Fire Department arrived to search this area on Tuesday but was unable to do so with deteriorating weather conditions. The BCI dive team will now be searching in the area tagged by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Department.

As previously reported, PPPD Chief Joe Veith said a 2008 GMC Arcadia SUV was stolen from a residence on South Park Dr. the morning the SUV was spotted in the river. On Wednesday, Veith said after a review of footage taken from one of the security cameras at Riverfront Park, at around 6:46 a.m. Tuesday morning, an SUV resembling the one stolen from Park Drive is seen entering the park at the 5th Street entrance. A witness at the park that morning said he saw the SUV enter here and then accelerate quickly through the park. The witness didn’t see the SUV exit and it does not exit through the 5th Street entrance according to the camera - the SUV is never captured on camera again. This has opened up the possibility the vehicle could’ve been launched into the river by descending the ramp into the amphitheatre and then into the river, though this is just conjecture at this point.

The PPPD was still investigating the lead the camera had provided on Wednesday afternoon. The camera also reveals a driver and possibly a passenger in one of the shots at the 5th Street entrance.

As reported previously, the PPPD was alerted by Mason County 911 of a vehicle reported in the water around 7:25 a.m. Tuesday. The call came in from the U.S. Coast Guard after being notified by a towboat operator. Veith said the towboat operator reported seeing what appeared to be a white or light colored SUV, noticing its red brake lights first, then the river’s current spun the vehicle around to show its headlines burning. The towboat tried to stay with the vehicle but eventually lost visual contact with it.