The bridge that links Ohio and Kentucky over the river along Interstate 275. (FOX19 NOW)
CAMPBELL COUNTY, KY (FOX19) -
Campbell County Police are reasonably confident they know who was driving a vehicle that plunged into the Ohio River Tuesday.
In a press conference Friday, police said the driver’s identity would not be released until the body and vehicle have been recovered from the bottom of the river.
Family members contacted police Thursday about a missing relative who was last seen in Campbell County shortly before the collision on the Combs-Hehl Bridge. There is “strong circumstantial evidence” connecting the missing person to the 12-vehicle collision, police said.
The individual typically travels across the bridge and owns a red, mid-2000s Pontiac Grand Prix – the same car model described by witnesses of the crash.
Police don't know if anyone else was in the car, but only one person has been reported missing so far.
Dangerous river conditions have kept recovery crews out of the water since Wednesday morning. Once the river calms, divers will attempt to locate and secure any occupants, should they be found.
“For us, the most important aspect of this recovery is the occupants of the vehicle, so we’re not going to rush anything that might upset that. The car is secondary," said Campbell County Police Chief Craig Sorrell.
The Boone County Water Rescue team will then use a vessel, barge and crane to lift the car from the river.
Sorrell said four separate accidents happened on the bridge, starting a chain reaction as other cars tried to slow down and navigate through.
"We do believe that car was in contact with another vehicle," said Sorrell. "They both skidded to the side, resulting in that car coming over the edge of the concrete barrier."
Figuring out exactly what caused the crash will be a lengthy process and can only be done once the car is out of the water, Sorrell said.
Sonar imaging located the car at the bottom of the river about four hours after the pileup.