CINCINNATI -- The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the death of an 82-year-old Hebron man who died Tuesday after falling into the Ohio River.
Virgil Souder, a long-time deckhand on the Anderson Ferry, died after he went overboard in the afternoon.
The official Facebook page for Anderson Ferry announced Souder's death shortly after 8 p.m.
“We wish his loved ones our deep sympathy," the post read.
As part of its investigation, the Coast Guard will look into what factors caused Souder to go overboard, and whether there was any negligence or misconduct.
The Anderson Ferry made its normal route Wednesday across the Ohio River from Constance, Ky., to Cincinnati.
But Wednesday’s crossings weighed heavily on the captains and deck hands that work the river.
Their thoughts were on their friend – a man they saw almost every day.
"(He was) just a very caring guy,” said Kay James. Her husband was the captain when Souder went overboard. “He was a friend to many, many people. It’s a big loss to the crew of people down there. You can just see it in their faces that they're just all down.”
Swift Water Rescue, Boone County Water Rescue and other emergency responders pulled Souder from the icy waters shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday.
It took crews about 30 minutes to find him after he was carried down river by currents.
"With the temperatures in the low 40s in the water, plus the air temperature was less than that, it's very difficult for anybody to survive in a situation like that," said Hebron Fire Department EMT Mike Fronimos.
Authorities said Souder was not wearing a life jacket when he fell in.
Currently, there is no federal law that requires mariners or crew members working onboard vessels to wear life jackets, according to Coast Guard Lt. Christina Jones.
“Federal law does require life jackets to be onboard for each person, but there is no law that requires them to be worn,” Jones said.
Jones said it could take weeks, possibly months, before the Coast Guard has concrete answers as to what caused Souder to fall overboard.
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