The Champaign County Sheriff's Office is asking for help locating a fisherman that may have been a witness when a 1-year-old child fell into the river and later drowned while on a canoe trip.

New reports reveal several water rescues on Mad River in one month

German Twp. Fire & EMS crews responded to four water rescues in July, all of which were concentrated in the same area around where the Ohio 55 bridge crosses the Mad River in Champaign County.

On July 6, German Twp. rescue crews went out to the river twice — within a block’s distance of each other.

RELATED: Owner of Mad River canoe business requires everyone under 12 to wear life jackets

Rescuers were called out first around noon. When crews got on scene, everyone was out of the water but crews were able to return items to the people that they had lost in the river.

The same day, crews were called out again for four people trapped on a boat, but the incident ended safely without any injuries.

Reports show that German Twp. was back out on the river a week later near the area of West Dallas Road and Mad River.

In this case, multiple people were stranded on an island on the river.

One person was loaded onto a boat to be picked up by a waiting crew and the others were helped across the river.

But the last incident — on July 23 — was the most tragic.

A baby, identified as 1-year-old Miya Ye of Bellefontaine, was on a canoe trip with her family through Birch Bark Canoe Livery.

Miya and her family missed their exit at Ohio 55 and their canoes became stuck on an underwater tree. The family’s canoes overturned, dumping Miya into the rushing water. The child was pulled from the river and rushed to an area hospital, where she died.

CONTINUING COVERAGE: ‘When it’s a kid, it takes a toll,’ says Champaign County Sheriff on baby death

The owner of Birch Bark previously said that the business requires anyone younger than 12 to have a life jacket on before they take off on the water, and staff said when the family left — everyone was properly equipped.

But whether Miya had her life jacket on at the time she went underwater is unclear.

The incident is under investigation by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

RELATED: Investigators seek ‘fly fishing’ witness to Mad River fatal canoe incident

Chief Deputy Eric Holmes said at the time of the incident, the sheriff’s office wasn’t able to gather a lot of witness information — but what they did learn from people in the area was that there may have been a man who was fishing near the bridge at the time.

“A Caucasian male, middle aged. He was supposedly fly-fishing in the area near the Route 55 bridge on Mad River,” said Holmes. “Possibly driving a blue Dodge pickup truck.

The sheriff’s office is now asking for the public’s help to find the man who may have seen the family or what happened that day on the river.

Anyone with information about who the possible witness could be is asked to call the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at 937-484-6091.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X