Authorities recover body of man who drowned

MASONTOWN  — Authorities on Monday recovered the body of an Ohio man who drowned after being swept away by the Cheat River in the Bull Run area early Sunday.

The body of Michael A. Lewis was found Monday afternoon in Cheat Lake. According to the Preston County Sheriff’s Department, at about 4:21 a.m. Sunday, deputies were dispatched to the Bull Run area to a report of a drowning. A deputy arrived and learned that Shane Nelson Forame, 23, was stranded in the water and another man, Lewis, 23, had been swept away by the swift Cheat River current.

Both men are from Petersburg, Ohio, and were camping in the area.

Preston Deputy 1st Class R.A. Stockett Jr. was able to reach Forame with a series of ropes tied together and the assistance of Aaron Williams, also of Petersburg, Ohio, and drag Forame to the shore.

Lewis could not be located and an ongoing search by multiple agencies was conducted Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, a West Virginia State Police helicopter flew over the area, searching for a heat signature or sign of Lewis. A drone was deployed Sunday and Monday in the search, without success.

The National Weather Service reported the Cheat River crested about 8-9 a.m. Sunday, Preston Emergency Management/911 Director Duane Hamilton said.

State Division of Natural Resources (DNR) officers and boats were involved in the search from the area where Lewis entered the water to Cheat Lake. Hamilton estimated it is 7.5 miles from the Jenkinsburg bridge to the backwaters of Cheat Lake.

Masontown Volunteer Fire Department deployed its boats on the river as well.

Volunteer fire departments from Masontown, Reedsville and Newburg, along with KAMP Ambulance, West Virginia State Police, Mountaineer Area Rescue Group, Preston County Dive Team and a Grafton volunteer K-9 unit assisted in the search.

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