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SCDNR Dive Team concludes successful search and recovery operation on ICW in Horry County

May 11, 2021

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

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. — Members of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (SCDNR) Dive Team have made successful recoveries in the search for two missing boaters on the Intracoastal Waterway near North Myrtle Beach in Horry County.

SCDNR was notified Sunday evening (May 9, 2011) at approximately 7 p.m. that two men were missing after entering the water from a boat travelling the ICW in the vicinity of Palmetto Harbor Drive in North Myrtle Beach. The boat had been rented by a family visiting from North Carolina for a Mother's Day excursion.

Witnesses report that one man fell from the boat while it was underway. The man's brother, also a passenger in the boat, jumped in to try and assist him. Neither man resurfaced. The search for the two men began immediately, with agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard and North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue searching the area by boat.

The SCDNR Dive Team began a coordinated search effort Monday morning (May 10), focusing on the area where the two men entered the water. Dive team members use boat-mounted side-scanning radar and hand-held sonar to aid in these situations. The body of one of the missing men was recovered at approximately 12 p.m., and the other at around 5 p.m. The ICW is tidally influenced, and the current flow can be a significant factor in these searches, depending on the stage of the tide both when an incident occurs, and during the search. The depth of the water in the area where the men's bodies were located was approximately 15-20 feet.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office has custody of the bodies and will release any additional information regarding the identity and cause of death at the conclusion of their investigation. A boating accident investigation of the incident by SCDNR is also ongoing.

SCDNR Dive Team members assigned to the search included Matt Owen, Mike Norris and Ronnie Floyd. Team member Matt Owen led the search.

"My hat's off to Matt Owen and our other team members for getting this job accomplished quickly and providing some closure to a grieving family," said Dive Team Supervisor Sgt. Dwayne Rogers. "It's worth noting that our team members are frequently called away from their families on holidays or weekends to work these incidents. It's a difficult assignment, but one that our entire team is proud to be a part of."

This week in Columbia, a group of SCDNR officers from around the state are beginning the rigorous training process that will end with some of them assuming the duties of Dive Team members in addition to their regular duties. Regular recruitment and training of new members ensures that the team will always be ready to respond in any region of the state.

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
(843) 610-0096