A summer outing has apparently ended in tragedy within the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. Rescue personnel and law enforcement officers are searching a tributary of the Big South Fork River in the area of the O&W Bridge for a child who has been reported missing and presumed to have drowned.
First responders were summoned to the scene — a nearly half-hour drive from Oneida and cell service — after a 911 call around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
Niki Nicholas, superintendent of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area confirmed that the search continued shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday evening. She said the child “is presumed to have drowned while swimming in White Oak Creek…”
White Oak Creek empties into the Big South Fork River about a mile downstream from the O&W Bridge. The stream is a popular swimming area, but is relatively shallow with the exception of a deep hole where a railroad bridge once crossed the creek. The area where the creek empties into the river is also a popular camping spot and sometimes swimming hole.
No other information was immediately available, but the public is being urged to stay away from the area.
“Out of respect for the family and in an effort to keep the area clear for emergency personnel we ask the general public to please refrain from traveling down to the end of the O&W Road where it ends at the river,” Nicholas said.