EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCAR IN RIVER
from Eyewitness News Online
B R E A K I N G N E W S !SUV Pulled From River; Body Found Inside
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Videographer: Jeremy Bias
Web Producer: Kristin Keeling
Also Contributing: Dave Benton
Reported: Apr. 28, 2012 6:53 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 29, 2012 9:57 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The SUV and driver that plunged into the Kanawha River on Thursday were pulled from the water around 5:00 Sunday evening.
Police have confirmed that the Jeep was the state issued vehicle that witnesses saw drive straight through MacCorkle Avenue from Route 119 and into the river. They say the body of John Damron was found inside. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Stay with Eyewitness News for the latest details.
Crews have started pulling the vehicle from the Kanawha River.
Eyewitness News crews on the scene say the vehicle appears to be a white SUV, similar to the car that went into the water on Thursday.
Rescue crews who have been searching since Thursday for a Jeep that plunged into the Kanawha River have located a vehicle as we try to confirm if it's the Jeep for which they were looking.
Charleston Fire Assistant Chief Bob Sharp tells Eyewitness News that there is no visibility in the water but divers have found a vehicle and could feel it. They were able to get a rope attached to the vehicle and now crews are pulling it to the shore. It was located between the South Side Bridge and Magic Island, roughly the area where the car plunged into the river on Thursday. The driver was heading north on Route 119, went across MacCorkle Avenue, through the guardrail and into the river.
Sharp says the process to remove the vehicle from the river will be slow. We'll continue to update this story as we get more information.
After three days of searching, there's still no sign of a driver and his SUV after it went plunging into the Kanawha River, Thursday evening.
Police still haven't identified the driver, but friends say he's 30-year old John Damron. Witnesses say Damron was going about 70 miles per hour coming off of route 119 and went straight across MacCorkle Avenue into the river.
His friends say he had severe diabetes. Damron was a mine inspector for the DEP, driving a state issued car. And the ones who loved him can't shake not hearing from him.
Now it's up to the search teams to find the SUV. They say it's like finding a needle in a hay stack. "Right now, you could go under water and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," said Charleston firefighter, Jeff Showalter.
The rain has made it nearly impossible for divers to see under water. They say it's like swimming in mud. "We can just make passes in the boat, and the sonar is reading the bottom," said Showalter.
So rescue teams are using a Sonar Search. It can scan 130 feet to the left and right of the boat, and nearly 30 feet to the bottom.
"As we make a pass, it sends out the signal 130 feet to the left and right of the boat and paints a picture on the screen for us."
The Sonar Search picked up a few debris piles while Eyewitness News was on the boat, but never anything close to an SUV.
A frustrating process for the search teams both in and out of the water. Hour after hour, searching and coming up empty.
"You always want your loved ones found so you can have closure. That's what we're trying to do. It's a recovery now and everyone knows that," he said.
Crews say they plan on sending divers into the water once the water level goes down.
We're told there will be a vigil Saturday night for John Damron at 11:00 p.m. at Magic Island.
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