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Recovery efforts resume for man who disappeared in Tuscarawas River

| June 6, 2022

PORT WASHINGTON (WJER) (June 6th, 2022) – Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s officials say the search continues for the man who went missing when his canoe capsized on the Tuscarawas River near Port Washington Saturday morning.

Sheriff Orvis Campbell says 25-year-old Keith Schlabach of the Baltic area is presumed dead.  He says multiple agencies responded around 8:30 am Saturday when another person in the canoe, a 27-year-old Sugarcreek man, made it to shore and called 9-1-1 to say he lost sight of Schlabach.

They were not wearing lifejackets.

“The last that he had seen Mr. Schlabach… he was out in the middle of the river heading downstream attempting to get a backpack, “ Campbell said.

He says crews have been out on boats checking up and down the banks daily since the accident, only terminating the search at night for safety reasons.

“We’ve notified Coshocton authorities, we’ve notified Newcomerstown and all those folks are trying to look from their end toward us,” he said.

Campbell says water rescues and emergencies are not uncommon on the river each summer.

“People don’t realize how tough the Tuscarawas River can be,” said Campbell.

“If you’re not an experienced person on a canoe or kayak, it can be something that’s dangerous…those things capsize pretty easily.”

Campbell says the two men were out on the river as part of a camping trip.

He says the search has involved participation from neighbors and farmers on all-terrain vehicles, several area fire departments, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and helicopters from MedFlight and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

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