Saturday, October 10, 2009


Elyria – What began as a rescue operation has turned to a recovery operation after Firefighters and County Divers spent 5 hours searching the Black River for a 13-year-old Elyria boy.

Just minutes after 2 p.m. Saturday a young boy ran into the lobby of the Elyria Police Department, franticly looking for someone to help him and his friend. The boy informed Police that he and his 13-year-old friend had been playing by the water falls behind the Police Station on Lake Ave. He said his friend climbed on the wall that borders the falls and fell off the ledge and onto the falls.

Police quickly notified Fire and went outside with the boy to see if they could find his friend. The boy led Police and Firefighters down the boardwalk of the Observation Decks and showed them exactly where his friend was climbing and fell.

Chief Ron Brlas of the Elyria Fire Department made calls for Lorain County 9-1-1 to start activating mutual aid resources for manpower and Dive Teams.

Firefighters made their way down to the riverbank and began searching for signs of the victim but could not locate him.

Chief Richard Benton of the Elyria Fire Department said that his Department responded with boats and divers right away. “We put the boat in the water and as soon as Divers began to arrive and suit up we started putting them into the water as well. Once we got the Sonar into the water we began working off of the images we received. The Sonar was able to give us about three different hits, but with the amount of debris that is in the water it was throwing them off and we would just find wood or other debris.”

Benton said that Rescuers are focusing in on the area right at the base of the waterfall. “There is usually a “wheel” created underneath the water from the waterfall – we’re concentrating in that area right now cause that’s usually the area that traps the debris. Once they get that area checked then they will fan out across the rest of the water area.”

Operations were halted around 8 p.m., about 5 hours after they began. “We’re suspending operations now due to darkness and we’ll start again tomorrow at 8 a.m.” Benton said. “We will have pretty much the same Divers that are here tonight back in the morning for the search.”

Benton says that the Black River is a very dangerous river and people should treat it as such. “I cannot tell you how many victims we have had in this river over the years – it’s very deceiving. People a lot of times will think of a river as just being a couple feet deep and under the falls it can be as much as 30 feet deep.”

When asked if Benton thought something should be done to block off the area to prevent kids from playing in that area he said that no matter what they do – the falls are too enticing to kids. “Before we fixed this area up there was a chain link fence with barbed wire on top and kids still found away to get over to the falls. It’s too tempting and I believe that no matter what you put up people will find away to get around it unfortunately.”

Police will have an Officer posted at the Observation Deck throughout the overnight hours making sure that scene remains secure until Firefighters and Divers return Sunday morning.

Today’s operation included multiple agencies from across Lorain County and even into Cuyahoga County. According to Benton Elyria received assistance from Avon, Amherst, Sheffield Township, Elyria Township, Wellington, Lorain County Emergency Management Agency – Command Post, LifeCare Ambulance and the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Special assistance was provided by experts trained in the use of Sonar from Cuyahoga County and a representative from Lorain Police Department’s Dive Team.



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