Body Found In Dow Lake Overflow Identified

By
Sara Brumfield - Athens Messenger staff reporter


Updated Tue, Apr 15, 2014 4:04 pm
Photo Credit: 
John Halley/The Athens Messenger

A body found in a creek across the highway from the Dow Lake Dam has been identified through dental records.

According to the Athens County Sheriff's Office, the body was identified as Sammie Steven Donato, 22, of Cincinnati.

Deputies responded at around 12:45 p.m. to an overflow creek near Route 50 on April 10 after it was reported that a backpack and its contents had been found near the water.

Lt. Jason Kline and Deputy Jimmy Childs searched the area and found Donato's body in the water at around 2:30 p.m.

No foul play was suspected in the initial investigation.

After Donato's body was recovered from the water, it was sent to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office for a full autopsy. Working with the coroner's office and Donato's family, the sheriff's office was able to positively identify the body as Donato.

"After conducting an investigation, it was apparent that (Donato) was on a walking trip from his home in Mount Orab to the eastern coast of the United States," a news release from the sheriff's office states. "Donato had no plan for exact location or timeframe to complete the trip and he had completed long walking trips many times in the past."

The release states that there is no evidence that Donato was involved with drugs or suffered from mental health issues.

"It appears that Donato had entered into the water either on purpose to recover items that he had been carrying or accidentally fell into the stream being overcome by the colder temperatures and force of the stream current," the release adds. "Donato's body was tangled in a large tree that fell across the creek causing him to be overcome by the water level."

A final cause of death and the coroner's report on the autopsy will not be concluded until a toxicology report is complete which can take eight weeks.

The sheriff's office was assisted by the State Forest Department and the Richland Area Volunteer Fire Department.

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