Officials have recovered the body of a West Virginia University student who drowned Saturday.
Brian Brick, 22, of Romney, was recovered from the Tygart Valley River at Arden at 7 p.m. Monday, approximately 1 mile downstream from where he was last seen, said Capt. W.A. Persinger of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
A number of agencies responded to the area at Arden for search and recovery efforts, including the Barbour County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement District 1, the Philippi and Belington volunteer fire departments, American Red Cross and others.
Searchers used a raft to find Brick's body, said Phil Hart, fire chief of Belington VFD. Hart said rescue teams worked until dark Sunday night and continued the search Monday.
Brick and three other people were swimming across the river toward a rock in the center when the current pulled the 22-year-old down, Persinger said. Some officials referred to the current as a whirlpool.
The remaining three swimmers were able to get out of the water unharmed, officials said.
Many officials agree that the area around this site, known as "Party Rock" at Arden, is not a safe place for anyone to take the risk of swimming.
"They just don't understand the swiftness of the water, the currents," Hart said.
Officials urge all who plan to visit the area to take caution.
Persinger said there are many locations along the river further upstream and downstream where the water generally is calm enough for swimming. He said local residents usually understand the dangers, but out-of-town visitors aren't always aware and may underestimate the currents where they attempt to swim.
Earlier this summer, waters in the area had been low because of a lack of rainfall. Now, after several rainstorms in the area, water levels have risen and drawn more people.
"Anywhere you've got swift currents and fast rapids should not be utilized for swimming. You're taking your life in your own hands," Persinger said in a previous interview about the recovery efforts.
He added many organizations donated food and water for the rescue efforts, and he thanked everyone who assisted.
"I am very thankful for Barbour County Sheriff John Hawkins and his staff for all they did in this recovery operation," Persinger said in a news release, adding "the fire departments from the area were outstanding and many of the departments came from outside the area to help.
Reporters with The Inter-Mountain made several calls to Hawkins throughout Tuesday in an attempt to gather information about the recovery of Brick's body. Staff members spoke with Hawkins and his office throughout the day and were told a news release from the Sheriff's Department would be submitted to The Inter-Mountain newsroom via fax, but it never arrived.
Around 4 p.m., staff members again attempted to contact Hawkins at his office to gather the information, but were told he already had left the office. Calls to Hawkins' cellphone were not immediately returned.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.