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Tygart River swimmer injured by hit-and-run boater; information sought

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A man swimming in the Tygart River on Saturday was struck and injured by a boat that then fled the scene, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Section (WV DNR LES) is now seeking the assistance of the public.

A 22-year-old male swimmer was struck around 4:35 p.m. near the east side bank of the river, about one-half mile south of the Benton’s Ferry Bridge. The victim sustained serious injuries and was transported to Ruby Hospital in Morgantown by the Marion County Rescue Squad.

Initial witness accounts described the boat that struck the swimmer as a white runabout “speed boat” that may have a yellow zig-zag pattern on its sides. The boat was occupied by approximately five white, middle-aged individuals and was driven by a white male.

After the boat struck the swimmer, it slowed and its occupants looked back at the victim, but it then sped away north on the Tygart River toward the Benton’s Ferry Bridge.

Prior to striking the swimmer, the boat and its occupants would have been operating on the Tygart River south of the Benton’s Ferry bridge in an area of the Tygart River that is lined with numerous homes and camps and is a popular boating spot that is frequented by many watercraft.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident, including the identity of the owner(s), operator, and occupants of the boat involved, is requested to contact the WV DNR LES, through the Marion County 911 Center at (304) 367-5300 or at the DNR District 1 Headquarters, in Farmington, Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm , at (304) 825-6787.

Assisting the W.Va. DNR LES with the investigation are the Whitehall Police Department, Fairmont Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the W.Va. State Police. The Marion County Rescue Squad, Valley Fire Department, and Winfield Fire Department responded to the scene and were responsible for the care of the victim.