RITTMAN: For 26 hours, Chief Don Sweigert of the Rittman Fire and Rescue led a mission to find a 13-year-old boy who went missing in Chippewa Creek on Sunday afternoon.

By Monday evening, the mission ended as a body recovery. Rescue crews recovered the boy’s body at 5:15 p.m., about 20 feet downstream from a small dam on Morton Salt property where the boy and two others went swimming in a low area of the creek bed.

“We would have hoped it would have been a better outcome and we were all praying it would be a better outcome,” Sweigert said.

The area was overlooked on Sunday because there was so much more water after Saturday’s rains. By Monday, the water had recessed about a foot and half to two feet. Rescue crews were able to do a linked search to find the body.

“Our hearts are heavy and our prayers are with the family of this young man,” Sweigert said during a press conference.

The name of the boy is being withheld at the family’s request until the coroner can confirm identification, according to Sweigert. The chief also would let the coroner confirm the boy’s cause of death.

The boy was not a Rittman resident and did not attend Rittman City Schools. He was visiting his mother, who lives in Rittman.

On Sunday at 2:45 p.m., Rittman Fire and Rescue was dispatched to assist with a swimming incident on Chippewa Creek, according to Sweigert. Three male juveniles were swimming in the “rain-swollen creek” near a low head dam.

All three juveniles jumped in but realized the current was too strong to swim. Two of the boys were able to swim to shore. When they couldn’t locate the third boy, they told the nearest adult.

Upon their arrival, Rittman Fire initiated a search of the banks and mobilized the Wayne County Dive Team. Authorities suspended their search around 9 p.m. on Sunday out of concerns over the safety of the rescuers. The search began again at 7 a.m. on Monday,

The Ohio Search and Rescue Team from Columbus joined the efforts on Monday, as well as swift water rescue specialists from Summit County. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was continuing with a search from the air and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had local representatives on site to assist as necessary.

Over the 26-hour search, the department also mobilized the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Medina County Sheriff’s Office, Canal Fulton Police Department, Ohio K9 Search Team, Rapid Response Services, Rittman Fire & EMS, and Rittman Police Department.

Over 40 first responders assisted in the search on Sunday and 60 were searching on Monday.

“We would like to note the outpouring of love and support that this Rittman community has given this family and our first responders,” Sweigert said. “This community came out and supported in love of this family, especially this young man. The Rittman community is truly a small town with a big heart.”

Hundreds of volunteers assisted in the search for the boy. They also brought in skid loads of water, Gatorade, food, and supplies for the family and the first responders. Walmart in Wadsworth delivered a pallet of water and Gatorade, according to Sweigert.

The Wadsworth Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service held a pancake breakfast on Monday morning and brought down pancakes for the Rittman first responders. The American Red Cross also made sure the rescuers and the family were fed throughout the day.

“Almost all of us have kids. They’ve all been that age. They’ve all done things, so that really tugs at our heartstrings,” Sweigert said of his department’s members, 23 of 26 who assisted in the search all day on Monday.

The department is bringing in counseling to help the first responders following this incident.

“They were trying to make this come about for good. Obviously, it didn’t, so it’s going to hurt,” the chief said.