Charles Town, W.Va., man drowns in Shenandoah River

June 30, 1997


Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W. Va. - A 35-year-old Charles Town man drowned in the Shenandoah River near the Bloomery bridge Saturday evening after spending the day having fun with friends, witnesses said.

As of Sunday, John Sherey's body had not been recovered. The Independent Fire Co. Dive Rescue Team arrived at the scene, about a mile away from the bridge, around 8 p.m. Saturday.

They were unable to do more than one search before dark, said Marty Braithwaite with Citizens Fire Co. The diving team consisted of rescuers from Independent, Citizens and the Blue Ridge Mountain fire companies in Charles Town and Jefferson County.


Timmy Haynes, 31 of Charles Town, said that Sherey had been drinking before he went into the water.

"I told him not to go in," Haynes said. "I said he'd have to hit the road if he went into the water. He went in anyway. He came out and was all fired up because I was telling him what to do. Then before we knew it, he dove in again. He got about half way out and went under."

A red and white buoy marks the spot in the river where Haynes and other witnesses saw Sherey go under the water.

Susie Painter, also of Charles Town, said the safe look of the water is deceptive.

"The water is so treacherous. It looks calm, but people should know that it's not a play toy," she said. "This river is more dangerous than it looks."

Haynes said that he and others who rent space along the river swam around looking for Sherey for two hours.

"They call me the mayor because I watch after everybody," Haynes said. "I haven't slept yet. I told him not to go in, but he was being pig-headed and kept saying he was a good swimmer, but he drowned."

Independent Fire Co. Chief Ed Smith said the diving team searched until dark.

"Five to 10 witnesses put him in a 50 foot radius," he said.

Smith said they did surface searching - looking through the water from boats - snorkeling, cross searching - when divers zig zag across areas so they don't miss any spots -- and canine units were used to find Sherey's scent.

He said the canine units found the scent in a few areas, so they brought divers to those areas to search. However, as of Sunday afternoon, Sherey's body was not found by the divers.

Smith said Sherey's body will probably float to the surface by Tuesday. He said the family will walk along the shoreline to try and spot Sherey's body, but that most likely a fisherman will find his body.

"Basically we'll do surface searches for the next couple of days. We've expended our resources - there's nothing more we can do now."

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