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SCDNR Dive Team concludes successful search and recovery operation on Savannah River

April 29, 2021

Dive team logo - SCDNR A.I.R. Team EST 1977 - GYSO-GITW

RIDGELAND, S.C. — Members of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Dive Team have made a successful recovery in the search for a missing boater on the Savannah River in Hampton County.

Earlier this week, family members of a Ridgeland man reported him missing/overdue when he failed to return home after a planned fishing trip. SCDNR was notified by county emergency responders on Tuesday the 27th at around 4 p.m., and Hampton County SCDNR officers began a search by boat. The missing man's boat was located within hours at the back of a remote ox-bow lake off a cut in the river where he was known to go to fish.

The SCDNR Dive Team was called in and began a coordinated search effort focusing on the area where the boat was found. Dive team members also use boat-mounted side-scanning radar and hand-held sonar to aid in these situations, and in this case, these high-tech tools helped facilitate a fairly quick recovery, according to Dive Team Supervisor Sgt. Dwayne Rogers. Team members operating the radar noted an "anomaly" on the bottom of the search area, which was marked so that a diver could investigate further. The missing man's body was recovered on Wednesday, April 28 at approximately 2:45 p.m.

“What these tools bring to the table in terms of helping us better pinpoint places to search is pretty remarkable," said Rogers. "They are an increasingly important part of how we conduct these operations."

SCDNR Dive Team members assigned to the search included Rogers, Daniel Lynch, Matt Owen and Mike Norris. The Hampton County Coroner’s Office has custody of the body and will release any information regarding the individual’s identity and cause of death at the conclusion of their investigation.

A boating accident investigation of the incident by SCDNR is also ongoing. The missing man was not wearing a life preserver, which could have been contributing factor in the accident. SCDNR strongly recommends that all boaters wear a properly-fitted PFD (personal flotation device) at all times while on the water.

The men and women of the SCDNR’s “A.I.R” (Aquatic Investigations and Recovery) Team are sworn law enforcement officers specially trained in the use of diving gear. Team members participate in underwater searches for drowning victims and assist SLED and other law enforcement agencies with evidence recovery in criminal investigations in addition to their regular duties as state conservation officers in their home counties.

Media Contact: David Lucas, Public Information Coordinator, (843) 610-0096