Braxton Citizens' News, Community

Two Duck residents drown in Elk River

The Frametown and Service Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the Elk River near Duck Friday afternoon for what turned out to be a two-day search for two individuals who drowned in the Elk River.

According to John Hoffman, County OES Director, a person jumped into the river from the Villanova Ridge Road Bridge on the Braxton/Clay County line just off of Route 4. A would-be rescuer was also lost in the water along with the person who jumped. Additional resources were requested from surrounding counties to aid in the recovery operation.

According to reports, Cpl. F.L. Raynor of the Clay Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, observed two subjects walking near the bridge along WV Route 4 on Friday, December 30, at approximately 4:00 pm and believed an active warrant existed for one of the subjects. Cpl. Raynor stopped both subjects and confirmed an active warrant existed on one, identified as Derek Lee Smith, 29 years old, of Duck. The other subject was identified as Darrius James Nottingham Jr, 61 years old, also of Duck.

Cpl. Raynor handcuffed Smith and while attempting to place him in the police vehicle, Mr. Smith fled and jumped from the bridge into the Elk River. Cpl. Raynor attempted to rescue Mr. Smith but was unsuccessful. Mr. Nottingham also entered the river and disappeared from sight.

First responders for Braxton, Clay, Kanawha and Nicholas counties as well as divers searched for the pair until dark. Crews called off the search after three hours due to safety concerns and darkness. Rescue crews returned to the Elk River at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday to resume the search.

According to Hoffman, both bodies were recovered from the icy waters on Saturday. The first body was found by a boat crew around 11 a.m. and the other body was discovered by a diver around 2 p.m., Hoffman says.

No additional information has been released.