BRAXTON COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Family members are remembering the two men who jumped into the Elk River and were later found dead on Saturday.
West Virginia State Police identified the two men as Derek Lee Smith, 29, and Darrius James Nottingham Jr., 61, both of Duck, West Virginia.
Family members said Nottingham, or “Jamie,” was a caring individual with a big heart.
“He really cared about people, and he would give the shirt off his back for anybody,” said Roger Nottingham, brother of Jamie. “In this situation, here, he sacrificed his life for his friend to try to save his friend and that would be very typical of my brother.”
On Friday, Dec. 30, Nottingham was walking near a bridge on State Route 4 with Smith, according to WVSP. They said Smith had an active warrant, and when he was handcuffed, he fled and jumped off the bridge into the river.
Officials said the arresting officer tried to rescue Smith but was unsuccessful.
Nottingham also went into the river trying to rescue him but disappeared from sight. Both his and Smith’s bodies were recovered on Saturday.
“Of course, he’s going to be missed,” said Diana Nottingham, sister of Jamie. “When it’s your sibling that’s the first kids you grow up with so he’s going to be missed, but I think the peace that I have is knowing that he saved somebody. He gave his life to save somebody else.”
Diana Nottingham said “Jamie” was the oldest of four siblings and had two children. She said he will truly be missed.
“Jamie didn’t always have a pleasant life, but we have a lot of good memories that outweigh the bad,” Diana Nottingham said. “All I can say now is may he rest in peace. We love him.”
Roger and Diana Nottingham said they’re looking for a home for two of Jamie’s dogs, but what they need most from the community is prayers for both families involved.