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Rural Wakeman man found dead in river near his home

Cary Ashby • Mar 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM

A local missing person's case had a tragic ending late Friday.

Jeff Fraley, 54, of 2232 Ohio 60, Wakeman, was found by members of the Wakeman Fire District about 1,000 feet behind his home in the river. Carol Fraley called 9-1-1 at 10:36 p.m. to report her husband, who is known to have seizures, hadn't been heard since he left his house for a walk between 7 and 7:30 p.m., according to the Huron County Sheriff's Office.

"The wife said he usually goes for a walk about dusk each night," Wakeman Fire Chief Jim Tansey Jr. said.

Before firefighters arrived, Jeff Fraley's neighbors were out in sport utility vehicles looking for him, Tansey said.

"The neighbors were very helpful," the chief added.

Wakeman firefighters and Citizens Ambulance responded to the scene at 10:46 p.m., about three minutes before the first of several deputies arrived. Deputies Todd Corbin, Scott Plew and Josh Querin were dispatched and Sheriff Dane Howard said he arrived on-scene from his home in New London.

At 10:52 p.m., one of the deputies requested a canine unit to help search the wooded area. The timeline from the sheriff's office indicates Fraley's body was found at 11:08 and Huron County Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Harwood was advised of the situation seven minutes later.

Tansey said soon after firefighters arrived, they divided up who was going to search where and the first group went into the woods toward the river. The chief noted that the crew found Fraley's body relatively quickly and that Citizens Ambulance, after both firefighters and paramedics tried to revive him, determined the incident was a "recovery" instead of one in which they would be able to revive the victim.

"It wasn't a prolonged thing," Tansey said about the search.

Howard said he requested a detective process the scene, but he said it doesn't appear that Fraley's death was suspicious. The sheriff declined to say whether he considered the death to be from natural causes or a suicide.

"That's the coroner's decision," Howard said.

Lt. Annette McLaughlin, when asked about the incident, said: "It appears it might be a mental condition."

Harwood couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office will be performing the autopsy.

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