Search-and-rescue effort turns to search and recovery following Ohio River tragedy

Search-and-rescue effort turns to search and recovery following Ohio River tragedy
Published: Jul. 6, 2015 at 6:59 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2015 at 7:34 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Crews hoping to rescue three boaters missing since Saturday night are now just trying to recover them.

Two people died when a pontoon boat capsized Saturday on the Ohio River after colliding with a construction barge near the site of the new downtown bridge. Three people from that boat were still missing as of Monday afternoon.

"We're continuing a search in both the upper pool and lower pool of the river below the dam," Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Eyewitness shares account of boat capsizing]

Frederick said his team has searched miles of the Ohio River using boats and sonar equipment.

Family members have identified the missing as Danal Swinney, his young daughter nicknamed "WeWe," and Swinney's girlfriend, Joyce Wright.

The coroner identified the deceased as Donald Swinney, 52, of Louisville, and Mark Swinney Jr., 14, of Louisville.

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Danal Swinney's sister came out to the waterfront on Monday morning looking for answers and holding on to hope that her loved ones are still alive.

"We want our family, we never expected anything like this to happen," said Daria Raymore, Danal's sister.

There were four other people on the boat who survived and were taken to Louisville hospitals. Raymore said everyone on the boat was family. She didn't know who was operating the boat.

The boat was rented from Derbyville Water Rental off River Road. The operator declined to speak with WAVE 3 News on Monday.

The Louisville Fire Department has now turned over the command to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Lt. Dan Assef, who is in charge of LMPD's dive team, said the Ohio River conditions have made it too dangerous to send dive teams into the water. Assef said it could be next week until they could put divers in because of the current and expected rain.

He described what the water looks like Monday.

"Water is dark and murky and you probably could see two feet in front of your face," Assef said.

Frederick said, "There is a lot of driftwood. There is a lot of debris in the river. It's being swept downriver. A lot of it collects in the dam areas, so it's absolutely hazardous out there."

Some of the most experienced boaters said they would not have gotten in the Ohio River over the holiday weekend.

The Coast Guard, which police's the Ohio River with other agencies, said the water was high, but not dangerous enough to tell people to stay away.

Late Monday, the crews that were searching the Ohio River rushed over to help with the major fire that developed along Louisville's Whiskey Row. It is unclear how the fire will impact Tuesday's search efforts.

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