UPDATE (Dec. 31, 2022, 4:19 p.m.): West Virginia State Police (WVSP) released the names of the two men who jumped into the Elk River and were later found dead.

WVSP says Cpl. F.L. Raynor saw two men — Derek Lee Smith, 29, and Darrius James Nottingham Jr., 61, both of Duck, West Virginia — walking near a bridge on State Route 4.

Cpl. Raynor believed Smith had an active arrest warrant. Authorities say Cpl. Raynor stopped the two men and confirmed Smith did have an active warrant.

WVSP says Cpl. Raynor handcuffed Smith and tried to put him in the police car. Smith then fled and jumped into the Elk River, police say.

Cpl. Raynor tried to rescue Smith but was unsuccessful, WVSP says.

Nottingham also went into the river and disappeared from sight, according to police.

The bodies of both Smith and Nottingham were found by rescuers on Saturday.


UPDATE (Dec. 31, 2022, 3:33 p.m.): John Hoffman with Braxton County Emergency Services says two bodies were found in the Elk River on Saturday.

Crews started the search on Friday after one man jumped from the Villanova Ridge Road Bridge and another jumped in trying to rescue him. Crews resumed the search on Saturday morning.

The first body was found by a boat crew around 11 a.m. and the other body was discovered by a diver around 2 p.m., Hoffman says.


UPDATE (Dec. 31, 2022, 11:50 a.m.): Rescue crews returned to the Elk River in Braxton County at 8 a.m. on Saturday to search for two missing people.

John Hoffman with Braxton County Emergency Services says a man jumped off the Villanova Ridge Road Bridge on Friday, and another man tried to rescue him.

Hoffman says both men went underwater quickly.

Crews called off the search after three hours due to safety concerns.

Crews responded from Braxton, Clay, Kanawha and Nicholas counties, according to Hoffman.


BRAXTON COUNTY, WV (WOWK)—Two people are missing after one tried to rescue the other from the Elk River in Braxton County.

According to John Hoffman with Braxton County Emergency Services, a person jumped into the river from the Villanova Ridge Road Bridge on the Braxton/Clay County line off of Rt. 4.

Additional resources were requested from surrounding counties, and a would-be rescuer was also lost in the water along with the person who jumped.

Hoffman said that rescuers searched for about three hours until it got too dark to continue.

They will be back out for a recovery effort at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

This is a developing story, and we will provide updates as new information becomes available.