NEWS FROM THE PARKS

James Combs Park honors local hero of March 1961 accident in the river

By Jim Blount

Journal-News

July 10, 1996

   A 65-acre Hamilton Municipal Park on the west side of the Great Miami River east of North B Street bears the name of the late James Combs, one of several heroes who responded to a river accident Wednesday afternoon, March 15, 1961.

   The drama began when a boat operated by Donald Cornette, 25, of Ridgelawn Avenue, and containing his three-year-old son, Gregory; and David Van Oflen, also 3 and of Ridgelawn Avenue, stalled above the dam north of the Black Street Bridge.

   The small craft drifted toward the dam. Cornette grabbed both boys as they were carried over the dam. The trio was momentarily caught in a whirlpool below the apron of the dam. With help, Cornette and his son quickly escaped from the swift, near-freezing water, but the Van Oflen boy was pulled downstream by the current.

   Cornette believed he had been assisted by Combs, 25, also a resident of Rid...

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