Family of missing man is hopeful, but devastated

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UPDATE 10:20 p.m.

The family of Jerry Dowd were on scene all day. His brother and sister tell 7News they’re thankful to all the crews who have been out searching, and they desperately want to find their brother.

“We’re just hopeful that they find his body soon because the waiting is so long and we pray that they find him alive,” Dowd’s sister Robin Nash told 7News reporter Nick Conigliaro.

The 32-year-old out of Wheeling has been missing after he fell off a boat, where he was celebrating July 4th, around midnight. People who were on the boat with him last night say they were pulling into the back channel of the Ohio River near the Aetnaville Bridge when he went overboard. 

“It’s a difficult situation you know,” his brother Charles Wallace said.

The Wheeling Fire and Police departments, along with Ohio search and rescue crews from Newark and Columbus, were out until dusk searching for the missing man. The teams are using sonar, searching shorelines, and dragging the bottom of the river to try and find Dowd, but the conditions of the river are making it a lot more difficult for the divers to find his body.

“Visibility definitely hinders the search,” said Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms. “Generally, if we can get in and get 2, 3, maybe even sometimes great visibilities around 6 feet it gives our guys that are diving a much better image of what they’re looking at. In these conditions they’re basically by touch, they’re feeling through the water trying to locate the body.”

Dowd’s brother and sister say they’re still hopeful and they’ve just been praying that they’re able to find him alive. 

“I hope that maybe he is up on the bank you know in the bushes and wake up pretty soon,” Wallace told Conigliaro.

They continued to say their brother Jerry is the type of person who would do anything for anyone.

“Everybody that met him knows what kind of person he is, wonderful,” said Wallace. “Wonderful human being, loving, great father, great son, great brother.”

“Very sweet. Very loving, compassionate guy,” Nash said.

At this time, officials have not found Dowd’s body, but they will continue their search efforts Thursday morning.


UPDATE 2:54 p.m.:

According to Wheeling Police Public Information Officer Philip Stahl, addition resources will be brought in to assist in the search of Jerry Dowd.

At 3:30 p.m., teams from Ohio Search and Rescue will join officials in the Ohio River as they continue to search for Dowd, who reportedly fell overboard in the back channel of the Ohio River early Wednesday morning.

The regional team, which is made up of fire and EMS workers, will be coming from Newark, Ohio, and Columbus.

The Department of Natural Resources is also involved in the search.

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UPDATE 10:32 a.m.:

Wheeling Police have released the name and age of a man who they say fell off of his boat early Wednesday morning.

Jerry N. Dowd, Jr., 32, reportedly fell overboard in the back channel of the Ohio River around midnight near the Aetnaville Bridge.

People that were on the boat with him last night say they were pulling into the back channel of the river when he fell.

They saw him treading water, and immediately turned the boat around to get closer to pick him up. When they got close, they couldn’t find him.

The river was crowded with other boats during the holiday, and it was reportedly very dark.

Crews searched the river for an hour and a half early this morning, but could not find Dowd.

Search efforts are ongoing by the Wheeling Fire Department and the Wheeling Area Underwater Special Tactics Team, as they continue to use a sonar to look for any signs of Dowd.

Stay with 7News for more updates.

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UPDATE 9:12 a.m.:

Wheeling Police have not yet released the name or age of a man who they say fell off of his boat early Wednesday morning.

Officials say the black male was on a boat pulling into the back channel of the Ohio River near the Wheeling Island Marina and the Aetnaville Bridge when he fell off of the boat.

The people he was on the boat with noticed him flailing in the water, and immediately turned around to help. 

Police say the incident occurred at approximately 12:15 a.m. when it was very dark. The others on the boat say they could not find the man.

Wheeling Police and Wheeling Fire Department searched the back channel for an hour and a half last night and could not find the man.

The Wheeling diving team began recovery efforts at 8:00 a.m. and are currently at the scene.

Stay with 7News as details become available.

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ORIGINAL:

The Wheeling Fire Department and the Wheeling Police Department will continue searching for a man Wednesday morning after they say he fell off his boat.

Officials searched through the back channel of the Ohio River near the Wheeling Island Marina and the Aetnaville Bridge at around 12:15 a.m.

After not finding the man, officials suspended their search, recovery efforts will begin at 8 a.m.

More details will be released later this morning.

Stay with 7News for updates on this story. 

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