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Little Miami search over, but family continues

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 12:07:15-05

MORROW, Ohio -- The official search for 27-year-old Aaron Berns was called off by Warren County deputies Sunday afternoon, but Berns' family plans to continue to search the Little Miami River and surrounding banks this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Berns was last seen at the scene of a fire at his brother's home in Morrow on Jan. 1. When officials tried to question Berns, he fled and jumped into the nearby river.

After three days of searching, the crew -- made up of the Warren County Sheriff's Office, Morrow police and other local first responders -- called off the search.

The 27-year-old's family said Berns, a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Berns' mother, Missy Hubbard, said her son was taken by law enforcement officers to a hospital earlier this week for a wellness evaluation after he set a mattress on fire outside. Hubbard said her son was recommended for a 72-hour hold at the hospital, but he returned home about 90 minutes later.

"I truly believe, if my son was properly diagnosed and treated, there would be no fire and they would not be sending divers in the water again this morning," Hubbard said.

His brother, Jeremy Berns, said he believes Aaron started the fire. Jeremy said he left Aaron alone at his three-unit home in Morrow for about an hour.

"It had to have been him," Jeremy Berns said. "It couldn't have been anyone else.

"He's having a hard time and he needs help, and he might be out there alone," Jeremy Berns, said. "We just want to find him."

Family members are asking for volunteers to help search the banks of the Little Miami River for Berns' body on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The search party's meeting place is The Little Family Church, 315 Pike St. in Morrow.

"We appreciate everyone we need to bring this soldier home to his family," the search's Facebook event description read. With any questions, call 513-433-1917 and ask for Tonja.