DRESDEN – The male pulled from the Muskingum River last Tuesday has been identified as Darnal Narayan, the 15-year-old Columbus boy who went missing while swimming in the Kokosing River on June 11, the Zanesville Times-Recorder reported Thursday afternoon.
Muskingum County Coroner Charles Feicht told the Times-Recorder that DNA samples were taken from the body and Narayan's parents to determine an identification. Those results came back Thursday.
Narayan went missing just after 3 p.m. on June 11. He was last seen swimming and wading near Honey Run Park in the Kokosing River.
Narayan was swimming with three other boys that day. A bystander called 911 to report that one of the children had gone missing, and a camp counselor soon picked up the phone to describe what had happened.
“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 teams searched the Kokosing River near Honey Run Park for three days before calling off the investigation on June 14. Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer described the search as a “large-scale effort,” involving boats, divers, sonar systems and K9 units. He said the area had been difficult to search, given natural elements that can make work dangerous for divers.
Four days after the Kokosing River search concluded, a woman saw a body floating down the Muskingum River in Dresden. Rescue crews were able to locate and remove the body from the river shortly thereafter.
While there were no signs of obvious trauma on the body, Capt. Jeff LeCocq of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office said the body was unidentifiable due to the wear it had received from the river. Officials were able to confirm it was a male, LeCocq said, but nothing more.
The body was sent to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office that day (June 18) after a string of regional tragedies had filled the Licking County morgue. It is unclear where the body was ultimately identified; the Muskingum County Coroner’s Office and sheriff’s office were both unavailable for comment as of press time.
According to Google Maps, Narayan’s body traveled approximately 48 miles downstream before being found in Muskingum County. It floated across three rivers (the Kokosing, Walhonding and Muskingum) and through three counties (Knox, Coshocton and Muskingum) in seven days or less.
It is difficult to determine how long it took the body to travel that distance, as relentless rainfall in the days following the search could have impacted the river’s flow rate.
Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District Chief Larry Stimpert led the Kokosing River search. He said in an email this week that, if the body found in Muskingum County was indeed Narayan’s, it would certainly break precedent from what he’s seen historically in these kinds of situations.
“History tells us that most water recoveries are located within approximately 20 to 30 feet of where they went under,” Stimpert said.
Stimpert said that in his time as chief, he has seen four drownings in the Millwood area. All four bodies were located within that 20 to 30-foot range.
After the body was found in the Muskingum River on June 18, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office were contacted about potential connections to missing persons cases in their respective counties. Pat Westfall, 40, of Coshocton, had gone missing near the Muskingum River on March 19. He remains missing to this day.