Meridian Star

January 22, 2013

Search narrows for possible drowning victim

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Emergency officials are continuing their search for a man who may have drowned Saturday in the Chunky River near Stuckey Bridge but according to David Sharp with the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency the searchers are tightening the area in which they believe the victim may be found.

    Sharp, who is the LEMA executive director, said Monday afternoon one of the search dogs showed a great deal of interest in a section of the river where searchers have been going back and forth the last two days.

    "The dog did not have a strong indication of anything in the area but it showed a lot more interest than ever before," said Sharp. "Sometimes, because of the conditions with water currents, temperatures, wind and the terrain, the dogs can get pretty close but not quite be to the point where they are certain something is indeed there."

    Sharp said the search will concentrate today in the area where the dog alerted as more equipment comes in to aid the emergency personnel.

    "We will have an underwater camera and sonar equipment to help us and we hope the water level will continue to fall," Sharp said. "It is still tricky to be in a boat with the current as strong as it is but we are determined to find this man and return him to his family."

    The 56-year-old victim, whose name is being withheld at this time by authorities, was in a canoe with two other men Saturday when it turned over into the swift, cold waters of the Chunky River. The two survivors were able to reach the bank but the victim was swept downriver. Sharp said searchers have recovered the canoe and other items that were in the canoe.

    Sunday Sharp said volunteer firefighters, LEMA and Newton County Emergency Management Agency personnel, officers with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Lauderdale and Clarke County deputies searched both sides of the river for any sign of the victim. Sharp said searches by boat were difficult and at times hazardous to the search teams because of the current.

    Sharp said he expects the river levels to continue to fall thereby helping the search operations.