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Dive team searches river for missing man

July 02, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Officially police say Darrick Michael Knipe is a missing person, last seen going into the Potomac River Sunday night.

"I'm hoping. But the more time goes on, I don't know," said Pam Knipe, Darrick Knipe's aunt who adopted him.

Pam Knipe and other relatives waited along the river near McMahon's Mill on Monday, while divers with the Maryland State Police Underwater Recovery Unit searched the river bottom for the missing 24-year-old.

The search turned up nothing as of late Monday, said Maryland State Police in Hagerstown. The search was called off around dusk.

State Police Sgt. Otto Artfitch, the dive team commander, said Knipe is believed to have died while trying cross the river in an effort to elude police. Knipe, of 1741 Nipetown Rd. Martinsburg, W.Va., could have been struck by a boat, Artfitch said.

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Martin Gallery, a ranger with C&O Canal Park, said that around 10 or 10:30 p.m. Sunday, he and another ranger went to the area near McMahon's Mill along the river because a group of people was being loud. The area is near Downsville and upriver from Dam No. 4.

There were about seven people hanging around. Some of them were juveniles and some had alcoholic beverages, Gallery said.

Gallery said they escorted the group to their vehicles and were going to check to see if any of them were wanted by police.

Knipe disappeared from the group, and when the rangers asked the other people where Knipe had gone, they said they did not know.

The rangers went up the road looking for Knipe, and soon came upon a couple of other people who said they hadn't seen anyone. Thinking Knipe had left the area, the rangers stopped looking for him, Gallery said.

At 5 a.m. Monday, some of the people who were with Knipe went to the state police barrack in Hagerstown to report Knipe missing.

The group said Knipe was last seen going into the river in the McMahon's Mill area and has not been seen since, police said.

Contrary to earlier reports, state police First Sgt. Mike Hegedus said there is a warrant for Knipe. He would not say what Knipe is wanted for.

Hegedus said police consider Knipe a missing person because there is no evidence he died.

But Artfitch said Knipe is believed to have died.

Artfitch said the people who said they saw Knipe go into the river also heard a boat go by and believe the boat may have struck Knipe.

The river is about 150 yards wide at the point Knipe is believed to have gone into the river. The current is not strong in that part of the river, Artfitch said.

Police described Knipe as a white man, 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 230 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes.

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