Search Resumes Tuesday For Brothers Swept Away In Olentangy River

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Recovery efforts are underway today for step-brothers who were pulled over a north Columbus dam last weekend.

The parents of 18-year-old Joseph and 20-year-old Anthony Welch tell 10TV the boys were skateboarding near the Olentangy River when Anthony somehow became trapped in the rushing current.  Joseph then swiftly reacted to save his older brother and hopped in the water.

Witnesses say they saw the pair pulled into the water between West Dodridge Street and Lane Avenue and were headed toward the low-head Doderidge Dam.  However, they never resurfaced after the dam.

Police say the swift current swept the brothers over the powerful force of the spillway.  Family members say it doesn't seem possible either could have survived.

Police say heavy rains have caused the river to swell over its banks and the current is even more powerful than usual, making it too dangerous for the divers to get close to the spillway even though they suspect the victims are trapped in the debris and undertow.

"It looks like the current is going away from the dam, when in all actuality the current is sucking you in,” explains Sgt. Rich Weiner of Columbus Police.

Divers stood against the current down river in water chest-deep searching the brush along the river bank where the young men may have washed ashore if they did get past the swift undertow of the dam. 

The dive team says it's hopeful a few days of dry weather will allow the river to slow and allow divers to get closer to the point where the men disappeared underwater. Divers also hiked a mile down river on both sides of the bank in case either man was washed ashore but found nothing.

The search was called off at 3:00 p.m. and will resume on Tuesday.

 

Searching for hope

The two step-brothers lost in these churning Olentangy River waters called Edward Jewell their uncle.  He knows the pair is presumed dead, but he is still looking down every bank, path and ledge with other loved ones searching and hoping to find a trace of the men.

“They (were) great kids,” Jewell explains.  “They went around and mowed … old people's lawns and trimmed up their grass. Anything anyone needed, they would try to help. As young as they were, they had the biggest hearts in the world."

Now, he’s calling upon the community to help the heartbroken parents by prayer or deed.

“The family is down here in tears. We need prayers to be said for the family.”  Jewell continued “Anybody can reach out for the family [of] Joe McCleary that would be appreciated."