Body found in Ohio River identified as Wheeling man

WHEELING — The West Virginia medical examiner’s office has identified the man whose body was found in the back channel of the Ohio River late last month.

According to Wheeling Police Department spokesman Phillip Stahl, the body found in the river on July 22 was that of Earl Stewart, 64, whose last known address was in Wheeling.

At this time, foul play is not suspected. However, a cause of death has yet to be determined, Stahl said. Results of an autopsy and determination of a cause of death will be made by the state medical examiner’s office in Charleston, and those reports are expected to take time to complete.

Law enforcement officials responded to the initial call to the scene near Bridgeport in the early afternoon of July 22 after a construction worker on the Interstate 70 project saw the body in the water and called authorities. The body was fully clothed when it was discovered near the mouth of Wheeling Creek where it flows from Bridgeport into the back channel of the Ohio River on the west side of Wheeling Island.

Since the body was found in the Ohio River, the jurisdiction of the case falls in West Virginia, officials noted. The Wheeling Police Department is handling the case.

The body was recovered from a shallow, waist-deep section of the river at the mouth of the creek.

Crews from the Wheeling Police Department, Wheeling Fire Department and Bridgeport Police Department all responded to the scene after the initial call was placed at around 12:25 p.m. that day.

It could take several weeks, if not months, before a cause of death is determined by the state medical examiner’s office, Stahl noted.


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