Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Police sort information on river deaths

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Authorities continue to explore what led to last week's fatal boating accident on the Great Miami River near Miami University's Hamilton campus.

Kevin Lodder, 24, of Hamilton and Danny Brodnick, 49, of Miamisburg drowned Friday afternoon after their 26-foot cabin cruiser went over a low-level dam, throwing them out. Their bodies were recovered Sunday.

"We are treating this similar to a fatal car crash," said Detective Monte Mayer, spokesman for the Butler County Sheriff's Department. "There are a lot of different things we have to look at."

Contrary to initial reports that said a third boat passenger swam to safety, Lodder and Brodnick were the only two people on the boat, Mayer said.

One of the focal points of the investigation is determining why the boat stalled before drifting over the low-level dam.

"We want to find out exactly what happened, where people were when it happened and why it happened," Mayer said. "We have some conflicting information."

Neither Lodder nor Brodnick wore life jackets, and there were no life jackets on the boat, he said.

Lodder, an employee of Lodder Marine in Fairfield, was with Brodnick for a test ride on the boat, which Brodnick had planned to buy.

An employee of Lodder Marine said the Lodder family had no statement about the accident.

Investigators are still interviewing witnesses of the accident and others, Mayer said.

The Miami Conservancy District, which provides flood protection, water resource monitoring and recreational opportunities in the Great Miami River watershed, normally places buoys near the section of the river where the accident occurred to warn boaters about the low-level dam.

The buoys are not in the river now because conditions have been unsafe for conservancy employees to place them, said Kurt Rinehart, manager of rivers and streams for Miami Conservancy. But there are warning signs just upstream from the dam, he said.

The buoys wouldn't have prevented last Friday's boating accident, Rinehart said.


E-mail skemme@enquirer.com

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