Police Searching For Missing 21-Year-Old

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Athens Messenger staff reports

Dateline
Updated Fri, Mar 14, 2014 5:31 pm

UPDATE 5:25 p.m. City and countywide agencies were still out in force Friday searching for a man who went missing Thursday night. As of The Messenger's deadline, he had yet to be located. 

Samuel J. Wiater, 21, of North Lancaster Street was reported missing overnight by his mother, according to a news release by the Athens Police Department.

Wiater is described as a white male standing 6-1 and weighing 175 pounds. He has a thin build with long, reddish-brown hair and hazel/green eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, black tennis shoes and a blue Baja hoodie.

A search began Thursday night and reconvened at daybreak after not having any success as of 5 a.m. The search party of about 20 to 30 people from the police department, the Athens Fire Department and other agencies set up a base at the West State Street Park in Athens at about 9 a.m. and searched downstream and the surrounding area, according to Athens Police Department Capt. Ralph Harvey.

Officials stated there was reason to believe that Wiater was headed toward the Hocking River after leaving his residence at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. His vehicle was located parked near the bike path on Currier Street.

"This is still a search and rescue, not a recovery mission at this point," Harvey said Friday afternoon.

Harvey said dive teams and fire department personnel have been searching the Hocking River on boats but have not done any dive searches as of Friday afternoon.

A third boat is being held in reserve by the fire department in case a tip comes in of another area to search, Harvey said.

A canine unit from the Hocking County Sheriff's Office was deployed to search along the river, but did not find anything, according to Harvey.

With a search of the river near West State Street complete, the search moved to part of the river off Richland Avenue, near Peden Stadium.

Foot teams searched on both sides of the river but had not found any evidence of Wiater, Harvey said.

During the night, the Ohio State Highway Patrol used air patrols with infrared search technology to conduct a search, but that, too, came up empty.

Units from the Athens County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio University Police Department have also been out, and the parties will be continuing the search as long they need to.

"We are going to continue the search until it's done," Harvey said. "It could be all day, could be all night, we just don't know at this point."

Normally, Athens search units will go as far as Canaanville, according to Harvey, but it is unknown if they will widen the search.

Searchers are aware of dangers for Wiater, such as the harsh cold that came in Thursday night and Friday morning, and the obstructions in parts of the river, such as the areas around White's Mill.

"White's Mill is the biggest danger (in regards to the river search) right now, but if we see something, the fire department has contingency plans for that," Harvey said.

Exhaustion and overheating are also problems that could face the searchers.

Harvey said there is no indication of foul play in the disappearance, but every possibility is being investigated.

"Our hope is to find him alive," Harvey said. "We are looking at every possibility."

Anyone with information pertaining to Wiater's whereabouts is asked to call the Athens Police Department at 740-593-6606. 


Area law enforcement agencies resumed search efforts Friday morning for Samuel J. Wiater, 21, after his mother reported him missing.

Wiater, of North Lancaster Street, is described as a white male standing 6-1 and weighing 175 pounds. He has a thin build with long, reddish-brown hair and hazel/green eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, black tennis shoes and a blue Baja hoodie.

A photograph was not immediately available for release. A search for Wiater in the Ohio University student database turned up no results.

Officers have reason to suspect that Wiater headed toward the Hocking River after leaving his residence at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night.

The Ohio University Police Department, Athens County Sheriff's Office and Ohio State Highway Patrol joined the Athens Police Department in the search. An air unit from the highway patrol and a watercraft unit from the Athens Fire Department is also assisting in the search.

Anyone with information pertaining to Wiater's whereabouts is asked to call the Athens Police Department at 740-593-6606

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