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Man dies after driving wheelchair into river

Sandusky Register Staff • Jul 17, 2013 at 12:17 PM

A Port Clinton man died Tuesday morning, just hours after driving his motorized wheelchair off a pier and into the Portage River, according to a Port Clinton police report.

Thomas J. Miller, 52, died at 5 a.m. Tuesday, about six hours after he belted himself into his wheelchair and drove into the river.

Miller's wife later told police her husband had been suffering from a rare disease since 2006, and he had been battling depression. He left the home Monday evening, and when his wife reached him on his cell phone, he told her he was at the pier near the municipal parking lot.

"I can't take it anymore," he told his wife, according to the police report.

Two witnesses told police they saw Miller ride the scooter down a ramp and onto a floating dock, where he stopped and looked briefly out over the water, the report said. He then turned the scooter to the north and accelerated quickly, driving off the end of the dock and into the water.

He was belted into the scooter and he did not surface after going into the water. Police retrieved a rope from an officer's rescue bag and, with help from witnesses, they wrapped the rope around a wheel of the scooter, the report said. Once the scooter was lifted from the water, Miller slipped out of the seatbelt. Rescuers found his body near the edge of the dock.

He was taken to Magruder Hospital and later flown by medical helicopter to another hospital, according to the police report.

Ottawa County coroner Dan Cadigan said Miller was pronounced dead at a Toledo hospital.

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