MOUNT VERNON — The search for a 15-year-old boy who went missing Tuesday in the Kokosing River has been called off.
Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer said that after three days of searching, “continued, organized recovery efforts are not planned, until further evidence is discovered.” Rescue crews have been searching the Kokosing in the area of Hazel Dell Road since Tuesday, when Narayam Darnal, 15, Columbus, went under the water and did not resurface.
The search was resumed Thursday on a more focused area, centering around a large downed tree partially submerged in the water. Shaffer said the tree is a mature Sycamore that fell from the river bank and is partially submerged. It has been in the river for some time, allowing debris to collect around it. The debris and muddy water have made searching difficult; Shaffer said divers searching in the area of the tree did so in “a dangerous environment” due to underwater “rock formations, crevices, low visibility, and river currents.”
“Crews are frustrated and disappointed that they have not been able to bring closure to the victim’s family,” Shaffer, writing in a press release Thursday night, said.
Darnal had been wading and swimming with a small group Tuesday when he went under the water and did not re-emerge, Shaffer said. Shaffer, speaking with the News Thursday, said it is believed that Darnal is not “a very strong swimmer” and that factor contributed to the incident.
Shaffer said it is still unclear if water levels or currents played a role.
“It’s always dangerous being in a river,” Shaffer said. “There is always that level of treacherousness, (especially) if you add in debris under the water.”
A man identified as Darnal’s father in a 911 call was actually a teacher who was with Darnal and a few other boys at the river, Shaffer said. In the call, the teacher answered questions from dispatchers when asked about his son being in the river. However, he apparently confused the questions, giving answers about his own son while also talking about Darnal.
Shaffer commented Thursday for the first time on the contributing factors in the drowning death last week of Mark Booth, 40. Booth went under the water in approximately the same area as Darnal, but in Booth’s case, the river’s height and current speeds were at unsafe levels.
“At that time (of Booth’s drowning), no one should have been on the river,” Shaffer said.
The two incidents occurred on the river in the area of Hazel Dell Road, near Honey Run Waterfall.