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Authorities recover body of kayaker who drowned trying to save dog

TNS Regional News • Mar 17, 2014 at 11:07 AM

The dive teams, battling high winds and cold water and unusual depth, were on their last legs Sunday afternoon when finally, about 2 p.m., they accomplished what they had set out to do: They recovered the body of 21-year-old Kyle Miller, who drowned in a Metro Park lake Saturday while trying to save his dog.

Officers from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft used sonar equipment specially built for deep water to pinpoint the location of Miller’s body nearly in the center of one of the Darby Bend Lakes at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in western Franklin County.

Miller and a friend, 19-year-old Austin Gifford, were in separate kayaks on the lake Saturday afternoon when Miller’s dog, which was with him, entered the water. While trying to bring the dog back to one of the kayaks, both men fell into the water, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said.

Gifford made it to shore, but Miller, who could not swim, held onto his kayak for as long as he could before he slipped under the water just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

Lt. Ed Schillig of the county sheriff’s office said the water temperature is about 30 degrees and, with the high winds topside, it wouldn’t have taken long for Miller to lose control because of the cold as he hung onto the boat.

The Darby Bend Lakes area of the park is a former quarry and is up to 80 feet deep in places.

Miller’s body was discovered about 71 feet down.

Neither man was wearing a life jacket, authorities aid.

Miller’s family watched the recovery from shore today but was too distraught to talk to reporters.

The cold and windy conditions slowed the recovery efforts because the 12 sheriff’s office divers, who dive in teams, couldn’t stay below surface as long as normal, Schillig said.

“It’s somber out here,” he said. “There’s no joy in doing any of this.”

Gifford is a student at Otterbein University from Hilliard as was Miller.

Gifford was treated at a Columbus hospital and released. Miller’s dog, a poodle, didn’t survive; its body has been recovered.

Miller was a track athlete at Otterbein and a zoo and conservation-science major, said Jennifer Pearce, a university spokeswoman. His professors and coaches are devastated, she said.

Saturday was the first day of Otterbein’s spring break.       


By Holly Zachariah - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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