PARKERSBURG - The weekend drowning of a Mercer County man in the Ohio River is being ruled an accident, officials said.
Patrick Sutherland, 63, of Princeton, W.Va., jumped from a riverboat Saturday afternoon and drowned in the Ohio River near Point Park, said officials with the Parkersburg Police Department.
Lt. John Young of the police department's detective bureau said no autopsy will be performed on Sutherland. The death is being ruled accidental, he said.
"There are witnesses who saw him jump in," Young said.
Young said Sutherland was on a cruise with the Moose Legion of the Kanawha Valley. Alcohol was being consumed on the boat, but it is not certain how much Sutherland had drunk.
Individuals on the boat, including Sutherland, planned to jump off the sternwheeler and swim to shore, said Sgt. George Fox, Parkersburg police.
"A couple of them planned to jump off the sternwheeler and swim to shore. The other one changed his mind and the others thought they had convinced him (Sutherland) not to do it, but when they turned around, he had already jumped," Fox said.
Fox said Sutherland went underwater, surfaced, swam a few yards then disappeared beneath the surface.
Family members, followed a few minutes later by Parkersburg Fire Department Capt. John Green, a trained lifeguard, jumped in to save the man, but were unable to locate him in the 25-feet-deep water.
Wood County Sheriff's Department Dive Team located the body.
The recovery operation was a cooperative effort of dozens of people from various agencies: the Wood County Sheriff's Department, Parkersburg police and fire departments, East Wood, Blennerhassett and Vienna volunteer fire departments, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Camden-Clark Memorial and St. Joseph's hospitals' ambulances as well as trained volunteers.