Nichole Hannahs

Update: Missing Men Found in Muskingum River

by Nichole Hannahs on March 23, 2010 at 2:58 am

An almost week-long hunt for two missing men from Licking County is at end. 

29-year-olds Ben Davis and Ryan Hickey were last seen alive at the Foxhole last Tuesday. They were were reported missing by family when they failed to show up for work the following day.

Monday their bodies were found in a submerged car in the Muskingum River near Harpers Auto Body, around 11:15 p.m.

A citzen told authorites he believed he had seen a tire sticking out of the river at four that afternoon, but hadn’t realized until watching the WHIZ News at 11 that it could be the vehicle belonging to the missing men and called authorities.

For six days the men lay submerged in the Muskingum River. It wasn’t until today they were pulled out, but those who live in this area had no idea they were even there.

"They did discover tire tracks in the grass, a divit of where something had hit the grass and a vehicle had gone off the roadway towards a river embankment and into the water," said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz.

The Zanesville Fire Department’s rescue boat along with a diver from Falls Township Volunteer Fire Department were able to confirm the car upside down in the river and the diver was able to hook a chain to the car, so it could be towed to shore. And that’s when they found the bodies in the car

"At this time we’re pretty confident that the deaths were related just to an accident, obiviously there’s extenuating circumstances there that we’re still waiting to find out what happened," said Lutz.

Those circumstances come down to three things for Sheriff Lutz: driver fatigue, alcohol and driver illness. More will be known when autopsy results are released later this week.

Those in the area were suprised to learn about the vehcile this morning.

"I saw some black marks about a week ago in the yard about a week or so ago," said Larry Weaver, an employee at Harper’s Auto Body. "I saw them and I never paid any attention. I walk the dogs along the riverbank two or three times a day and I never spotted that."

"If we counted how many times our officers alone drove across the 6th Street Bridge," said Lutz. It’s very frustrating."

While the crash remains under investigation, Sheriff Lutz said they do know the driver of the vehicle was Ryan Hickey and that he wasn’t wearing a safety belt, while Davis was. There were also no signs of alcohol in the driver’s compartment.