Marietta man dies after driving car into river

MARIETTA – A Marietta man who drove his car into the Muskingum River Sunday died Monday morning at Marietta Memorial Hospital.

Elvin H. Schenkel, 79, of 103 Nelson Ave. was pulled from his car within 10 minutes of witnesses watching Schenkel drive the car straight into the Muskingum River Sunday morning.

He was trying to commit suicide because of health issues, according to a report from the Marietta Police Department.

“We got that conclusion from taking witness statements,” said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.

Witnesses on the opposite side of the river spotted Schenkel’s vehicle enter the water at the Indian Acres Park boat ramp and immediately dialed 911, said Marietta Fire Capt. Jack Hansis.

“I got the call at 10:32 a.m. from a female who was on the west side, and her family and friends were straight across from the ramp and witnessed it just go straight in,” he said.

Two members of the Marietta Fire Department dive team – Eric Moore and Matt Hively – were first on scene and assessed the location of the car with the help of the witnesses.

“The witnesses had a pontoon boat and had shot out across the river and were pointing out where they last saw the car,” said Hansis.

The witnesses had marked the location with a life preserver, he said.

The vehicle was fully submerged by the time the fire department arrived, said Hansis. While standing on the car’s roof, water was up to the chest of the divers, he said.

Though not in diving gear, responders assessed the location and orientation of the car. Hively was able to quickly locate Schenkel through the open window and was able to cut his seatbelt loose and pull him to the surface.

He was likely unconscious while being pulled from the vehicle, said Hansis, as he did not resist or assist with his rescue. Responders from the fire department and Marietta Police Department immediately began performing CPR on Schenkel, he said.

“This was at 10:40, eight minutes after the call,” Hansis said.

Schenkel had a pulse but was not breathing on his own when he was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital, he said.

Schenkel’s vehicle, a four-door sedan, was towed back to shore shortly after the accident.