NEWELL - A man and woman kissed before jumping together off the Newell Bridge into the Ohio River on Sunday evening, according to a witness.
The pair still had not been found as of press time, according to Hancock County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Brian Swan. Swan said as time passed, it was more likely that the operation would shift from a rescue to a recovery effort.
Brittany Riddle of East Liverpool said she was driving across the bridge toward Newell at approximately 6:30 p.m. Sunday when she saw a couple on the walkway to her right. While stopped at a traffic light, Riddle said, she looked down to adjust her car radio and was stunned by what happened next.
Photo by Richard Sberna
Firefighters deploy boats in the search for a man and woman who jumped off the Newell Bridge together Sunday.
"I looked up and saw the couple," she said. "They kissed each other, climbed up there and jumped."
Shocked by what she had witnessed, Riddle said she drove to her aunt's house a short distance down W.Va. 2 and called her mother.
"I just started freaking out," she said. "I didn't really know what to do."
Riddle's mother, in turn, called 911 and met her at the scene while deputies interviewed her.
Swan said the man was middle-aged, white, heavy-set with a gray beard, wearing jeans, a black sleeveless T-shirt and a bandanna. The woman was thin, white, with bleached-blonde hair and visible tattoos, also wearing jeans and a black cutoff T-shirt.
The couple jumped closer to the West Virginia side of the bridge, where the search was concentrated. Rescue boats from Newell and Chester volunteer fire departments continued scanning the water as the sun went down.