Man missing, feared drowned in Mississippi River


Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Ryan Brooker

CAIRO, Ill. - The rough waters along the Mississippi River are not helping in the search of a missing North Carolina man. Witnesses said the 20-year-old went under Sunday and didn't surface, prompting one of his friends to go after him.  But that rescue attempt didn't work because of the strong, swirling current.

Cpl. Terry Richardson works for the Missouri State Water Patrol and is using sonar in hopes of finding any pieces of evidence that could be the break in the case.

"It actually shoots a beam, the scoop goes out, should be able to see any logs, rocks, or whatever you're looking for, you should be able to see it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not," said Richardson.

He said the strong current could keep the body underwater for days. Investigators have not determined if alcohol played a factor but both Cpl. Richardson and Cairo resident Pertida Woodson said the waters should be off-limits to even the most experienced swimmers.

"Young kids come down here and they walk down at the end of the dock and they think they can go out there and swim, "Woodson told Local 6.  "It's a drop-off and the current just, there's been a lot of kids drowned in these waters."

Cpl. Richardson said he's been a diver for more than two decades and even as a father, he can't fathom the loss of life.

"We have recovered numerous bodies through the years and it's tragic," he said.  "It's a loss I cant know. I have ben around people and experienced their pain."

Woodson told Local 6, "You come down here and you see all this water and you're like, 'Okay, I can go down there and put my feet in the water, or just wade in the water and next thing you know, you're gone.'"

Rescue crews will continue their search Monday night. If nothing is found, they will return to the Mississippi waters Tuesday morning.