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Man drowns in W.Va.

August 01, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Emergency crews scoured the Shenandoah River for about six hours Wednesday before recovering the body of a 34-year-old man who drowned while swimming with friends at the Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area.

West Virginia State Police would not release the man's name Wednesday night. Senior Trooper M.L. Dickerson said the man was from the Charles Town, W.Va., area.

An investigation into the drowning was under way, but it appears to have been an accident, Dickerson said.

Dickerson said the man, who was swimming with a friend and two relatives, did not appear to be having any trouble while he was in the water.

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His companions became concerned when they realized the man had not gotten out of the water when they did and they didn't see him, Dickerson said.

When someone called for help at about 3 p.m., emergency crews hurried to the Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area off Mission Road, a few miles from the Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Co.'s headquarters.

About a dozen people who spent the day at the park with the man waited anxiously while rescuers searched for him. At times, relatives and friends gathered in a circle, sometimes hugging each other.

Two boats with rescuers, divers and two Berkeley County tracking K-9s patrolled the area of the river where the man had been swimming.

Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., a diver from Independent Fire Co. found the man's body, but the current pulled the body away, according to accounts from two rescuers.

Emergency crews were getting ready to call off the search for the night because it was getting too dark.

Just before 9 p.m., a member of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department's dive team found the body again and attached a flashlight to it, said Berkeley County dive team member Cpl. Ron Gardner.

That enabled rescuers to pull the body from the water.

Scott Knill, chief of the Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Co., said the body was found in a 10-foot-deep channel about 20 yards from where the man was last seen.

Divers from Woodsboro, Md., assisted with the search, Knill said.

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