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Body Found In River

By Staff | Feb 25, 2009

The body of Matthew Christman of Woodsfield was found in the Ohio River Feb. 18 after a search that began Feb. 16.

Monroe County Sheriff Charles R. Black Jr. said Christman’s body was located and recovered from nearly 10 feet of water at about 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Two cadaver dogs alerted to the same area of the river believed to be Christman’s entry point. Divers were sent into the water in that area. “Due to the frigid water temperatures and no visibility, the divers were unable to locate anything,” said Black. “A river drag was utilized in the area and after several passes were made, Christman’s body was located and recovered in nearly 10 feet of water.” The body was transported by boat to the New Martinsville Marina and the investigation was turned over to the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. Christman’s body was sent to Charleston for an autopsy. Results of that autopsy are not yet available.

Christman suffered from diabetes and it is not known if that condition may have been a contributing factor.

Christman was reported missing on Feb. 15, when the Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Woodsfield Police Department searched Woodsfield and the surrounding area in an attempt to locate Christman. On Feb. 16 his Ford Truck was discovered parked and abandoned at the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial Bridge that crosses the Ohio River between New Martinsville and Hannibal.

“A search of the area with K-9’s from the New Martinsville Police Department and the MCSO were conducted soon after the discovery,” said Black. “Both dogs tracked directly from Christman’s truck to the edge of the Ohio River. One set of boot prints were found at the scene. The boot prints were located leaving the vehicle and walking directly to the edge of the river.”

Search boats were requested from the New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department. An extensive search of the river was conducted from both boat and personnel on foot. The search began several miles south of the bridge to the believed entry point into the river.

Witnesses stated a man fitting Christman’s description was seen at the bridge between noon and 2 p.m. on Sunday. “One witness stated Christman was walking over the guardrail and headed under the bridge,” said Clark.

“From witness statements, Christman’s truck was seen at 2:50 p.m. on Sunday. The truck was abandoned at that time.”

Several agencies and volunteers were involved in the search for Christman. Cadaver dogs were provided by Wanda Yater of WV K-9 Search and Rescue. Cadaver dogs were also utilized by Toby Lemmon from Northern Ohio Valley Area Search and Rescue, Inc. Rescue and search boats were provided by NMVFD, Wheeling Fire and Rescue, Benwood Fire and Rescue, and Tyler County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Joe Kress and Woodsfield resident Louis Sulsberger also provided boats in the search. Divers from the Bergholz Fire Department were also utilized. Other agencies providing assistance were Monroe County Emergency Management Agency and the New Martinsville Police Department.