BUTLER TOWNSHIP – After three days of searching, rescue teams are still unable to locate a Columbus teenager who was reported missing in the Kokosing River on Tuesday.
Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer said in a press release Thursday evening that rescue crews “are frustrated and disappointed that they have not been able to bring closure to the victim’s family.”
Personnel from Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District, Fredericktown Community Fire District, Fredericktown Emergency Medical Services, Walhonding Valley Fire District, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Dellroy Community Fire Department, Licking County Sheriff’s Office, and Christian Aid Ministries Search and Rescue have scoured the Kokosing River over the last three days, but have not been able to find the boy who went missing near Honey Run Park.
Shaffer described the search as a “large-scale effort,” involving boats, divers, sonar systems and K9 units. He said the area has been difficult to search, given natural elements that can make work dangerous for divers.
“The area where the victim was last observed contains a very large tree that is partially submerged,” Shaffer said. “Underwater rock formations, crevices, low visibility, and river currents in the area make it a dangerous environment for divers.”
Despite the threat of rain Thursday, dive crews and regional rescue agencies arrived early to search the river. Shaffer said the search has been suspended for the time being.
“Continued, organized recovery efforts are not planned, until further evidence is discovered,” Shaffer stated.
Darnal Narayan, 15, of Columbus, went missing in the Kokosing River on Tuesday afternoon. He was last seen swimming and wading near Honey Run Park.
Earlier reports indicated that Narayan’s father was on the scene at the time of his disappearance, and that the father had spoken with 911 dispatch about what had happened. Shaffer confirmed Thursday that it was instead a camp counselor who was on the scene, and that the Columbus Police Department made contact with Narayan’s parents after the boy had been reported missing. Narayan was one of four boys on the river that day, Shaffer said.
A bystander called the Knox County Dispatch Center on Tuesday at 3:28 p.m. to report a missing person. Shaffer said the counselor did not have a phone on him at the time of Narayan’s disappearance, so he asked the bystander to call for him. The counselor eventually came to the phone and offered an account of what he’d seen.
“He was swimming with his friend. They got separated just below the falls, where the river narrows,” the counselor told dispatch. “I was swimming after them, but I don’t have my glasses on… the boy who was swimming with him said he was trying to pull up, but he couldn’t.”
Narayan was last seen wearing a blue swimsuit, the counselor said. The counselor told dispatch people had stopped by the park to help search.
Local and state rescue agencies have searched the Kokosing River for three days – five hours on Tuesday, 11 hours on Wednesday, and all day Thursday – but have not been able to locate Narayan. Each day, additional agencies have descended upon Caves Campground to help with the search.