Companion held on 15 minutes until rescued

HOWARD — The body of a Mount Vernon man who went missing after a tubing accident in the Kokosing River was found Friday morning nearly a mile from where he was last seen.

Mark Booth, 40, of Mount Vernon was found at around 10:45 a.m. about 4,500 feet downstream from Caves Campground on Austin Road in Butler Township after he and a 42-year-old woman lost the grip on a floatation device and went into churning river water.

Both Booth and the woman went into the current, but she managed to grab onto a tree and hold on for about 15 minutes until she was rescued.

Search teams from Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District, Fredericktown Community Fire Department, Ohio Special Response Team, Ohio Division of Watercraft and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene Thursday night to rescue the woman and search for Booth.

All of the same previous emergency services teams, along with several family members, returned to the same scene Friday morning and continued the search with boats and divers as well as land rescue vehicles. They found Booth shortly after the boats were launched at the campground.

In a 911 call that was placed Thursday at 5:04 p.m., the caller, who is related to the rescued woman, said that the group of four tubers was trying to find a safe place to exit the water, but the current was too strong and it took both Booth and the woman further downstream. The two were still visible to the others for a few minutes until Booth went under the water and disappeared. The woman grabbed onto a tree branch midway down the river and kept herself in one place while she was stranded.

During the 911 call, the caller was alternately giving the dispatcher information about the situation and yelling encouraging words to the stranded woman at the same time. Once emergency crews arrived, they rescued the woman and started the search for Booth.

The Knox County Coroner’s Office is assisting in the investigation, according to Sheriff David Shaffer.

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John Wareham: 740-397-5333 or john.wareham@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews