Authorities scale back search

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

The search for a Hazlehurst man missing in the waters ofWilliams Lake has been downsized and will continue in a scaled-backmanner during daylight hours only.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said diversceased operations at dusk Wednesday and would not return to thelake unless called upon, and a team of cadaver dogs mapping thesurface will also leave the search. Several of the emergencydepartments from south and central Mississippi will likewise retirefrom the search, leaving the effort to find the victim in localhands.

“The divers have assured me from all the information we have onthe location they have searched thoroughly and are unable to make arecovery,” Galey said. “We’re going to scale down operations to 8a.m. until dark for safety reasons.”

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Wednesday was the busiest day of what is now a four-day-oldsearch in the dark waters of Williams Lake, an 80-acre private lakeon Highway 51 where an unidentified 55-year-old fisherman fromHazlehurst fell from his boat Monday afternoon and neverresurfaced. The number of agencies searching for the victim grew to17 Wednesday, with divers from the metro area joining theeffort.

Authorities are not releasing the name of the victim, who haslikely been submerged for almost 70 hours. With manpower reduced,the search will now rely more on technology, Galey said.

“We’re going to use surveillance equipment, eyeballs and otherequipment that may be available,” he said. “The search will not beover until the victim is recovered.”

At the height of the search Wednesday, agencies assistingincluded the Brandon Fire Department, Copiah County EmergencyManagement Agency, Jones County EMA, Lamar County EMA, LincolnCounty Civil Defense, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, King’sDaughters Medical Center, McComb Fire Department, MississippiDepartment of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Mississippi EmergencyManagement Agency, Pearl Fire Department and Rankin County EMA.

Lincoln County’s Heuck’s Retreat, Hog Chain, Loyd Star and Ruthvolunteer fire departments also assisted in the search, and the RedCross and Salvation Army helped tend to the responders.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Galey said. “That’s not only fromme and my team, but from the family.”