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Rafter who fell into Elk River found safe

By Staff reports

CLENDENIN, W.Va. -- A 19-year-old Clendenin area man who fell out of a raft in the Elk River near Queen Shoals on Monday and went missing for more than two hours was found safe walking along railroad tracks on the outskirts of Clendenin.

Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kevin Clendenin said rescue personnel in boats searched the area downstream from the site where the raft capsized early Monday afternoon, after receiving reports that one of two men on the raft had not been seen emerging from the river.

The missing man, who emergency officials were told was autistic, was found about four miles downriver from the point where his brother --, the other man riding the raft -- had last seen him. The brother swam to shore immediately after the incident.

"From what I understand, the raft flipped in the middle of the shoals, where there's a little riffle with some whitewater, and the 19-year-old got away from his brother, who thought he might have drowned," Clendenin said.

"We put boats in the water to search to see if he was stranded on an island downstream, and had a dive team on standby," Clendenin said. The Elk River was clear and not unusually high on Monday, he said.

Both brothers were uninjured. "This time, the story had a happy ending," the fire chief said.


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