Thursday, May 16, 2002

Search goes on for two boaters

Falmouth friends watch and wait

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

        FALMOUTH — In the stores and on the front porches of this small Northern Kentucky town, the talk is of Danny Eaton and Robert Wood, two local men who have been missing since Monday, presumed drowned in the Ohio River.

        Mr. Wood, 24, of Falmouth and Mr. Eaton, 27, of nearby Foster, were fishing near the Meldahl Dam when their small boat capsized. A third man on the boat, Jeremy King, 25, of Colmansville, Ky., was rescued by a towboat.

        The three fishermen put their boat in the river on the Kentucky side opposite Chilo, Ohio, but it capsized closer to the Ohio side.

        The two missing men are longtime friends who grew up together and loved to fish and hunt. They both worked in construction.

        “I saw them right here in the parking lot as they were leaving to go fishing,” said Robbie Thornberry, a local farmer. “I never believed they'd go up there. You don't do the Ohio River at 40 feet.”

        Mr. Wood's family has been in the area for generations, and has close ties to the Pendleton County school system.

        He had an interest in politics, and was one of four candidates for the Democratic nomination for Pendleton County jailer in the May 28 primary election.

        “I think he'd have been a good politician,” Mr. Thornberry said. “He would have taken his responsibility.”

        In a candidate statment published in the local newspaper Tuesday, Mr. Wood said he wants to continue his family's tradition of community service.

        Mr. Eaton was described as willing to help anyone and is also well liked in the community.

        “He was the hardest-working boy I believe I ever saw,” said Falmouth resident Lynn Booher, who has known both men since they were young.

        Wednesday, searchers spent their third day looking for the men. Because of the river's depth and current, divers or underwater equipment could not be used, Washington Township (Clermont County) Emergency Services Chief Greg Thomas said.

        Boats search the river and banks from morning until dark, and helicopters sweep the river daily. Clermont County sheriff's deputies search the dam at least twice a day. Dam employees check the dam's locks and gates every three hours, the chief said.

        “Every day we have had our fireboats out there searching the river,” Chief Thomas said. “Right now there's a lot of uncertainty as to where they could be.”

        That strikes hard in Falmouth.

        “That's the biggest part, the waiting,” Mr. Booher said. “It's awful not being able to do anything.”


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