Shortly before noon, a witness saw a man park on the bridge, exit a car and jump. A short time later, the body of long-time attorney and one-time gubernatorial candidate Larry Harless of Ripley was pulled from the river.
"We thought we lost visual contact with him at one time," says Ravenswood Police Chief William Sinnett. "We thought maybe he went under, but the fire chief, Terry Drennan, saw the body and it was recovered about a half-mille downriver."
Police are still investigating, and have not yet ruled Harless' death a suicide. Searchers are disappointed the victim was not recovered alive, but it's surprising, almost miraculous, that he was recovered just minutes after he entered the water.
In Parkersburg, police are still searching for Leonard Brown, who, it was reported, jumped into the Little Kanawha River last month. In fact, there has never been a sighting of a Ravenswood man who jumped or fell from a barge on the Little Kanawha in 1997.
"One thing that led to spotting this one," says Jackson County EMS director Hank Gibson, "was that it was reported immediately, and we had trained folks on the scene almost immediately. So they were able, to a point, to track his location."
Harless, who was from Ripley, was 63 years old. Harless had challenged the Wise administration's and Legislature's plan to use limited video lottery proceeds to repay bonds that would be sold to finance economic development projects across the state.
The state Supreme Court unanimously ruled against him.