NEWELL- A man and woman kissed before jumping together off the railing of the Newell Bridge into the Ohio River on Sunday evening, according to a witness.
Brittany Riddle of East Liverpool was driving across the bridge toward Newell at approximately 6:30 p.m. when she saw a couple on the walkway to her right.
Approaching the traffic light on the other side, traffic slowed to a stop. While stationary, Riddle says she looked down to adjust her car radio and was stunned by what happened next.
The Chester and Newell volunteer fire departments deployed rescue boats in the search for a man and woman who jumped off the Newell Bridge together into the waters of the Ohio River on Sunday evening. (Salem News photo by Richard Sberna)
"I looked up and saw the couple," she said. "They kissed each other, climbed up there [on the rail] and jumped."
Deeply shocked by what she had just witnessed, Riddle says she drove to her aunt's house a short distance down state Route 2 and called her mother.
"I just started freaking out," she said. "I didn't really know what to do."
Her mother, in turn, called 9-1-1 and met her at the scene while she was being interviewed by officers from the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Sgt. Brian Swan of the sheriff's department gave a description of the pair, who still had not been found as of early Sunday night. The man was a middle-aged white male, heavy-set with a gray beard, wearing jeans, a black sleeveless T-shirt and a bandanna. The woman was a thin white female with bleached-blonde hair and visible tattoos, also wearing jeans and a black cutoff T-shirt.
The couple jumped closer to the West Virginia side of the bridge, where the search was concentrated. Rescue boats from Newell and Chester volunteer fire departments continued scanning the water as the sun went down.
Swan said that as time passed, it was more likely that the operation would shift from a rescue to a recovery effort.