Longtime friends go missing on Ohio River after weekend canoe trip

CINCINNATI -- Authorities and community members searched miles of the Ohio River Monday for two young men they say went missing while canoeing over the weekend.

Officials said 20-year-old Cameron Buerger and 19-year-old Marty Stanaford were last seen at 6:30 p.m. Saturday about 15 miles east of the Meldahl Dam.

Family members said the two are longtime friends from Troy, Ohio, a city just north of Dayton.

Stanaford’s aunt, Sherry Peterson, said search crews found a cooler that belonged to the boys.

“It was found here at the dam (Sunday), so that's the only thing so far that we've found,” she said.

Boats from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have been combing the river since the men went missing. Family members and friends have also been walking along the banks.

But Peterson said there is a lot of area to cover and she needs the community’s help.

“We're just asking on behalf of the family, if you live in this area, if you would please just check for us,” Peterson said. “The more eyes and the more people that we have looking, we might have a chance of finding the boys or the canoe.”

Buerger's father, Rob Buerger, grew desperate as he scoured the waters Monday night. As the sun went down, he and the other family members huddled together to plot their search plans for Tuesday.

"We just need more eyes on the river, even if you can't get down to the shore, any eyes on the river they're really going to help," Rob Buerger said.

He's spent every minute of the last two days looking for Cameron and Marty.

"I mean, I knew right away. (The feeling was) panic and I had to get down there," Buerger said. "The river is strong and the river is up. When the river is strong and it's up the current is really flowing and if those boys were out on the water, a big, big issue."

Peterson said Buerger and Stanaford went to high school and graduated together.

“They're really, really good friends and they're good boys,” Peterson said. “They were just out to have a nice time and we're hoping that we just find them somewhere.”

Her hope remained strong Monday night. 

"We don't want to give up," Peterson said. "We're not ready to give up. We're thinking these boys are going to come walking out of the woods and we're hoping that's what happens."

They were using a green, 15-foot Old Town brand canoe when they went missing. Both men were wearing blue jeans and straw cowboy hats.

"I've got to find ... I've got to get to the bottom of this," Buerger said. "You work 100 percent and you don't think about the worst thing that could be a result. You just want to keep going and going and going, and try to get as many answers as you can, and get as many people involved as you can."

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