Search for woman continues

WHEELING — While Wheeling firefighters and law enforcement officers concentrated their search efforts on the Ohio River on Thursday, the family of missing flood victim Page Gellner has maintained a constant lookout on Big Wheeling Creek.

Friends, relatives and volunteers from as far away as Altoona, Pa., have been searching the water in hopes of finding Gellner, 19, who was swept into raging flood water on Browns Run Road on Sunday. Her boyfriend, Michael Grow, 24, was pulled from the water by sheriff’s deputies but died later at a local hospital. His funeral service was held Thursday.

Despite their grief, Grow’s family has been in constant contact with Gellner’s relatives, said Judy Foster, Gellner’s aunt.

Foster and others have set up a volunteer center at Austin’s Bar and Grill on National Road in Triadelphia. The bar is owned by Gary and Melody Courtwright, relatives of Larry Courtwright, Gellner’s stepfather. Weary-eyed relatives sat inside Thursday, waiting for any news as they coordinated volunteer efforts. A pair of muddy boots was parked at the front door. Cars lined the driveway. A sign outside reads “Prayers for Page.”

The bar is closed for business, but volunteers are welcome to come in and sign up to help. Donations of food and money and volunteers with boats are appreciated, family members said. Cabela’s and Target donated safety vests for volunteers. Gellner was a much-loved employee at Target, where regular customers often waited in line just to have her check them out and enjoy some conversation, her sister Amber said.

Family members were seen along the creek on 20th Street on Thursday afternoon where a volunteer’s dog had indicated something in the water. It turned out to be a large, dead beaver. Their search then moved to another site.

Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms said his department’s search and recovery efforts were focused on the Ohio River on Thursday.

He said crews exhausted their search of Big Wheeling Creek through the week. Cadaver dogs were utilized but did not signal anything other than animal carcasses.

“We are still looking in the river, and anytime we get a report of something on the creek, we go and check it out,” Helms said. “We are pretty confident we have cleared the creek with the cadaver dogs.”

Fire crews switched out every two hours as they maintained a constant search on the river. “We have had boats in the water all day long,” Helms added.

Helms said Friday’s predicted rainfall is a concern and urged people to stay off the waterways in rising water. He said if Big Wheeling Creek rises and falls again, he will put crews back on the creek for another search there as the additional rain “could change things.”

Meanwhile, Gellner’s family said she was a person who lit up a room with her bubbly personality and caring nature. They said she was wise beyond her years and was looking forward to beginning studies to become a nurse. She graduated from Bellaire High School in May.


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