Brianna Baumgartner was getting ready for bed in the wee hours Sunday when she heard screams that made her grab a flashlight, rush outside, and then wait for over 10 hours until authorities retrieved the body of her neighbor.
He was presumed to have drowned in a pond at her Springfield Township apartment complex.
The body of Christopher Hall, 23, was recovered about 11 a.m. Sunday from the 25-foot-deep pond at the Windjammer Apartments in the 6500 block of Dorr Street. The retrieval followed a frantic search hours earlier by neighbors and rescue teams that included Toledo, Jerusalem Township, and Springfield Township firefighters and Lucas County sheriff's deputies.
"I heard screams like 'he's going under, he's going under, stop playing,' " Miss Baumgartner, 17, said Sunday. "It was about 12:50 a.m. I was scared."
Miss Baumgartner said she woke her mother, who called 911 and learned from the operator that several calls reporting the incident already had been received.
Miss Baumgartner grabbed the flashlight and ran out to the pond's beach area.
"By then everybody was in a panic mode," she said.
"There were four people in a boat and several neighbors who jumped in to look for him."
Virginia Todd, the Lucas County coroner's investigator who identified the victim, said an autopsy was scheduled for Monday to determine the cause of death.
"What we know is that a group of people were swimming and then one of them started struggling," Springfield Township Assistant Fire Chief Rick Helminski said.
Rescue crews arrived shortly after 1 a.m.
Once there, they received confirmation that a man in his 20s had disappeared while swimming, Chief Helminski said.
A search-and-rescue effort on shore and in the water lasted about an hour until authorities declared the man presumed dead and began making efforts to recover the body, Chief Helminski said.
Darkness and vegetation in the pond impeded recovery efforts, Toledo Deputy Fire Chief Tom Jaksetic said.
When Mr. Hall's body was brought ashore, Miss Baumgartner said, she broke into tears.
"My thoughts go out to them," she said of members of the victim's family who had gathered on the opposite side of the pond at about 11:15 a.m. yesterday, waiting for Toledo fire fighters to bring the body ashore.
A young man at the scene, who declined to give his name or to comment, said he had been one of the victim's roommates.
An older man, who said he was a family spokesman, also declined to comment.
The incident is under investigation by the Lucas County Sheriff's Office.
It declined to give further information until the victim's family members could be notified.
Contact Mike Sigov at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6089
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