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River search continues for body of man

November 23, 2012
By STEPHEN HUBA - Special to the Herald-Star , The (East Liverpool) Review

CHESTER - Area firefighters continue the search for the body of a man who jumped into the Ohio River after allegedly attacking his wife and 21-year-old son on Tuesday.

Hancock County Sheriff Mike White identified the man as Tim Ralston, believed to be in his early 50s.

White said Ralston came after his wife with a pipe in their High Acres Drive home shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, hitting her in the head and the arms.

Their son intervened, and the woman was able to get away and get help from a neighbor, White said. The son also was injured in the attack.

"(The son) overpowered him, took the pipe from him and held him down," White said. "He told her to run next door to get help and call 911."

Ralston then fled the scene in a pickup truck, driving west on U.S. Route 30 toward the Ohio River, White said. A Chester police officer responded but not in time to apprehend Ralston.

"By the time (the officer) turned around and got back down to the bridge, the truck was parked in the westbound lanes on the north side," White said. "(Ralston) was nowhere to be found."

A witness later told police that Ralston stopped the truck, got out and jumped off the Jennings Randolph Bridge. White said eyewitness testimony and evidence found at the scene led police to the conclusion that Ralston did not survive.

Ralston's wife and son were treated at East Liverpool City Hospital and released.

White said the attack was the result of a marital dispute, but he would not elaborate. "There never had been violence in the home before," he said.

Volunteer firefighters from Chester and Newell spent all day Wednesday on the Ohio River looking for Ralston's body.

The Chester Volunteer Fire Department used three river recovery rescue boats in the effort. Newell Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid.

"Hopefully, we'll find the body. If we don't, it'll come up on its own in three or four days," Chester Fire Chief John Hissam said.

Firefighters were dragging the river using hooks attached to metal "A" arms and lowered to the river bottom by ropes, Hissam said.

Hissam said the river is 20 to 25 feet deep in the area where firefighters are searching.

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