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Bridgeport Firefighters Use Specialized Equipment to Recover Bodies of Teter Lake Drowning Victims

By Julie Perine on July 10, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Utilizing its specialized underwater camera equipment, Bridgeport Fire Department was able to assist Belington Fire Department in a water recovery operation early Monday morning, ultimately recovering the bodies of two drowning victims.
 
Around 10:50 p.m. Sunday, Barbour County authorities were alerted to a capsized boat on Teter Lake, said Bridgeport Fire Chief Phil Hart.
 
“When they arrived, one subject was on the bank out of the water and two others were unaccounted for,” he said.
 
The individual who swam to safety was treated by Belington EMS and thereafter refused transport to a medical facility. An extensive search was launched to find the two other individuals, Hart said. After a period of time passed and the subjects had not been located, the operation transitioned into recovery mode, rather than rescue mode.
 
“At that time, additional resources were called in,” said Hart, who also serves as chief of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department.
 
Hart called in two members of his Bridgeport department who live closest to the site and were not on duty. Arriving around 3:20 a.m., the trio utilized the specialized underwater equipment which prior to that time had only been used for training purposes. The underwater camera attaches to a pole which adjusts to various water depths. It captures video which is transported back to a screen.
 
“We worked with Barbour County water rescue teams and Elkins Fire Department and went into the area where the one subject was rescued from the bank, concentrating all search efforts in that area,” Hart said. “Using the camera, the bodies of both drowning victims were detected and scuba divers were deployed into the water to recover the bodies.”
 
Hart said cooperative teamwork between departments once again produced results.
 
“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but we were able to bring closure to the family very quickly,” he said. “The use of the camera made the operation safer. Rather than putting scuba divers in to cover the whole area, the camera detected (the bodies) and divers could go straight down and recover them.”
 
Initially dispatched to the incident were Belington, Philippi and Junior fire departments with Bridgeport and Elkins called in later. Divers from all agencies were utilized to recover the bodies. All three were adult males, Hart said.
 
In a story released by WDTV, the victims were identified. Read about it on the WDTV Web site HERE
 
Editor’s Note: Pictured are boats from Bridgeport, Belington and Junior fire departments at the command post after both bodies were recovered. Also pictured is the start of rescue efforts by Barbour County firefighters.



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