By Patricia Beech
A massive search and rescue operation in southern Adams County ended when authorities discovered the body of a man from the Manchester area. On Monday night, April 25, the family of Robert H. White reported that he was missing.
Nearly 100 people turned out to join the search including members of the Manchester and West Union Fire Departments, Life Squads, and Police Departments, deputies from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Troopers from the Russellville and Mt. Orab State Highway Patrol Offices, three helicopters from the Columbus State Patrol, search dogs from Hamilton County, Game Wardens from the ODNR, the Red Cross, the Buffalo Trace Search and Rescue team from Mason County Kentucy, numerous civilians, and worried family members.
According to authorities, White left his home around noon on April 25 to begin repairs on a fence row on his farm. He was traveling on a four-wheeler.
According to Manchester Chief of Police Jeff Bowling, the search covered over 600 acres.”We went out in groups on ATV’s and in utility vehicles,” he said. “The terrain was rough and wooded, and we had no idea where to start.”
The search continued throughout the night and into the following morning. “We knew the time element wasn’t on our side,” said Bowling. “But we were hoping for the best.”
Bowling was a first-responder on the scene. He said that helicopters had to guide the searchers through a wooded area to the hillside where White’s body was discovered.
Like many people in the Manchester area, Bowling considered White a friend. “He was well liked, he didn’t have an enemy one,” Bowling said. “He was always a happy guy who never met a stranger.”
Adams County Deputy, Randy Walters was among the searchers on Monday night. Walters said he’d finished his shift when his brother called and told him White was missing. Even though he was scheduled to work the following day, he went out to join the search. Walters said they located White around 7:20 a.m. on Tuesday morning. He’d been involved in an ATV crash on the side of a hill and was deceased.
Adams County Coroner, Dr. Larry Best was called to the scene and White’s body was transported to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office for autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Walters said there was nothing suspicious, it was just a tragic accident.
“There were so many people from the public out there searching,” he said. “It really showed how much the community cared about him. He was a likeable guy who had a lot of friends.”
Kevin Walters and Lonnie Bilyeu of the Manchester Life Squad were both friends of White. The three of them had coffee together nearly every morning.
Bilyeu told the Defender, “I’ve known Bob since we were teenagers. We played baseball together, he was a good old boy who he didn’t know a stranger. I don’t care where you were, Bob would talk to you, it didn’t matter who you were.”
Bilyeu said his friend liked to joke around with people. “If he knew you, he’d try to embarrass you. If you were in McDonald’s or somewhere eating, he’d holler at you, ‘Hey, get that hamburger out of your pocket, you’re trying to steal it.” He chuckled at the memory and said, “Bob was funny, he was really a good guy. He’d do anything in the world for you. It was just a freak accident. Bob probably went over that hill a hundred times without anything happening.”
Funeral services for White were held on Sunday, May 1 in Manchester. Burial followed at the Manchester Cemetery.