Police Confirm Body of Missing Harford County Woman Has Been Located, Identified

BEL AIR, Md. (September 3, 2018)—Maryland State Police can confirm that the body discovered Monday afternoon in Harford County was that of a woman who was swept away by swift water Friday evening in Churchville, Md.

According to investigators, the body of Melissa Anne Lehew, 34, of Darlington, Md., was discovered by a civilian around 1 p.m. Monday in the body of water where Maryland State Police and allied agencies had been searching since shortly after Ms. Lehew was reported missing. Formal search operations had been suspended by Maryland State Police around 5 p.m. on Sunday, but investigators had continued to search the area on Monday.

According to witness accounts, at about 6 p.m. on Friday in the area of Route 136 and James Run, a vehicle with someone inside became disabled on the Broad Run Bridge due to rushing water that had submerged the vehicle up to its roof. A truck with a man and a woman, later identified as Ms. Lehew, pulled up to the scene and attempted to assist.

Based on a preliminary investigation, Ms. Lehew and the man from the truck retrieved a rope and tried to assist the motorist in the vehicle on the bridge. At some point, Ms. Lehew fell and the man with her helped her up only for her to fall again before being swept over the bridge and into the rushing water of Broad Run.

The driver of the truck was able to drive to an adjacent quarry in search of Ms. Lehew and then sought assistance from those in the area, who called 911. As a witness was on the phone with the 911 operator, he observed the disabled vehicle go over the side of the bridge and get swept down the body of Broad Run.

A vehicle was located later Friday evening about a quarter of a mile from the scene, but high water conditions made it initially too difficult to confirm whether it was the vehicle from the bridge and whether any of the potential victims were inside of it.

Maryland State Police ended the initial search efforts at about 11 p.m. on Friday and resumed efforts at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. However, at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, investigators recovered the body of a man, identified as Daniel Samis, 67, of Abingdon, Md., from the sedan with the assistance of the Harford County Technical Rescue Team.

It was initially believed that there was initially someone else in the vehicle with Mr. Samis, however further interviews with witnesses and his next of kin regarding his movements Friday evening leads investigators to believe that he was in the vehicle alone at the time the vehicle was swept away.

The search effort continued through Sunday afternoon before being suspended around 5 p.m.

Those who assisted in these search efforts over the weekend included the Maryland State Police Dive Team, Criminal Enforcement Division and K9 unit. In addition, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore Police Department, Harford County Department of Emergency Services, Bay Area Rescue K9, Chesapeake Search and Rescue and Mid-Atlantic D.O.G.S. Search and Rescue are also assisting in these search efforts.

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