VANDALIA — John Ditmer, 60, of Miamisburg, died after flipping his van over Taylorsville Dam and into the river around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The van lost control and went off the road, down the incline, and into Taylorsville Reservoir. Two bystanders that were fishing and a Huber Heights police officer responded.
“Because the driver’s compartment was submerged, the officer used his baton and broke the windshield and they pulled the victim out through the windshield and then took him to the east shore line,” said Huber Heights Fire Division Battalian Chief Michael Muhl.
Boats were deployed to check the van and make sure there weren’t any other victims. According to Muhl, the Huber Heights Fire Division boat was used to retrieve the victim from the east shore line and to bring him across to the west portage where the canoes and kayaks usually put in “because that was the easiest way to evacuate him from the area he was in.”
Muhl said the Huber and Butler Township boats were then used to conduct a secondary search of the vehicle to make sure there were no other occupants. They also searched the downstream area between the dam and the vehicle to make sure nobody had gotten washed out of the vehicle and was trapped in the strainers on the north side of the dam.
Muhl said the cause of the accident is undermined as of yet by investigators. He said the vehicle was traveling north on 40 and made a turn to the left and went west through the grass area between the monument and the other obstacles and managed to go down the hill, down the embankment through the fence and into the river.
He said there are three possible reasons this could have happened: a medical reason, a mechanical failure in the vehicle or intentional.
“At this time, we just don’t know which one it was,” said Muhl.
Muhl indicated that when the victim was retrieved from the vehicle he had a pulse and was breathing. He indicated that sometime between the time they got him to shore and when he got to the medic, he stopped breathing and medics started to perform CPR.
“When CareFlight landed and he was brought in from the river and was taken up to the helicopter, the helicopter crew and the medics continued to work on him and the medic then determined he was gone and was deceased…,” said Muhl.
Muhl said the vehicle was removed from the river later that day.
“This is the second similar type incident that’s occurred up in that area,” he said. “…It was a good multi-agency response. The training that we’ve done with the three cities and the three jurisdictions together up in that area certainly paid off and everything went as best as could be expected considering the circumstances.”
Crews from the Vandalia-Butler responded with six personnel, Butler Township with four and Huber Heights with eight responders and Five Rivers MetroParks also responded to the scene. An estimated six police from Huber and Vandalia were present.