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Stay Out Stay Alive Fatal Accident Summaries
for 2006

August 1, 2006

Emergency response crews took to the water Tuesday morning to search for the body of a 17-year-old Belmont, Ohio teen, who reportedly went underwater at a strip pond near Lafferty Monday afternoon and never resurfaced. Geared with scuba equipment, divers from the Belmont County Sheriff's Office dive team were able to locate and recover the body of Daniel R. Easthom of Harlan Acres Road shortly after the search resumed Tuesday morning.

Divers located the body of a teen Tuesday morning shortly after resuming a search of a strip pit near Lafferty that began Monday evening. Daniel R. Easthom, 17, was reportedly swimming in the strip pond with two friends on Monday when he began to struggle in the water. Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson said the two friends reportedly attempted to help Easthom, but he began pulling them down, and the friends went back to shore to get help.

Rescue crews from several agencies responded to the initial call after 6 p.m. Monday and remained on the scene after midnight. The search for Easthom resumed Tuesday morning. Emergency crews used rescue boats with Sonar locating equipment, and scuba divers from the Belmont County Sheriff's Office dive unit entered the water at around 10 a.m.

Divers were able to locate the body at about 10:15 a.m. just off shore near the spot where Easthom was reportedly swimming late the previous afternoon. The body was found in about 15 feet of water, officials said.

The teen's drowning this week was not the first death reported at the strip pond. Thompson said at least two other individuals have died in the same body of water over the past couple of decades, including one man who reportedly broke his neck after diving off a high wall.

Crews from the Lafferty Volunteer Fire Department, Belmont County Emergency Management Agency, Belmont Volunteer Fire Department, Ohio Watercraft Officer, Martins Ferry Fire Department, Cumberland Trail Fire Department, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, Morristown Volunteer Fire Department and other agencies were among those who responded to the scene.

Officials noted that swimmers need to take precautions when looking for places to escape from the heat. The sheriff said strip ponds can be extremely dangerous places to venture, even when someone is with a group of people.

"At one end of this pond, from my understanding, someone just dumped a bunch of barbed wire fencing in it," said Thompson. "If someone gets hung up on that, they're not going to come up. "If you want to go swimming, go to a pool or somewhere where there are lifeguards. Don't go in a strip pit." (Source: Martins Ferry Times-Leader)