Cliff diving teens an issue for neighbors at deadly site

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Neighbors near Hoover Reservoir have seen teens dive into the water before Saturday’s deadly incident.

Roger Hott, who lives on the 5500 block of Sunbury Road, said he saw a group of five teens go into the bush by the cliffs Saturday evening. A half hour later, one of them pounded on his door and said his friend disappeared underwater after jumping from the cliff. Hott called 911 and followed the teen back to the area.

“Three vehicles stopped on Sunbury Road and a man from one of them jumped into the reservoir trying to find the teen,” Hott said.

He said Genoa Township fire and police showed up quickly with rescue boats. He said he watched from the cliffs as authorities used sonar on one of the boats to find the teenager’s body, just before dark.

Genoa Township police said on their Facebook page the teen died after he was taken to a local hospital. Police said the other teens had tried to rescue the 16-year-old boy, while another one ran to Hott’s home for help.

Jim Farley lives next door to Hott and said neighborhood teens use the area to jump and swim a lot during the summer.

“The cliff is about 20 feet to the water, and the water is 38 feet deep,” he said. “It is deep over there.”

“It is nothing I would ever think of doing,” said Jarra Anderson. He and his two preteen sons were fishing off the cliffs Sunday morning. “I just come here to fish and enjoy the sunshine and enjoy my kids this morning. But I watch them, tell them to stand back. This nothing to play with; it is dangerous.”

Police are not naming the teen because of his age but said the strong current may have played a role in his death.

Hott said over the last three or four years, deputies, police and park rangers have tried to stop teens from using the cliff by running them off or ticketing them. But to no avail. He said there was a no swimming sign posted in the area, but someone tore it down.

Police said it is illegal to swim in Hoover Reservoir and diving off of the cliffs.

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