Fisherman’s body recovered from lake

Published 5:01 pm Friday, February 18, 2011

Authorities said the four-day search for the missing body of aHazlehurst man is finished after officials recovered the body fromWilliams Lake Thursday afternoon.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said thebody of M.L. Berry, 63, was found at 4:08 p.m. on Thursday roughly50 feet from the original search area.

“We had not moved our search area as far as we did today,” hesaid. “Today just happened to be the day we expanded it just farenough.”

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Berry fell into the lake Monday afternoon while he was fishingwith his wife in the western portion of the private lake about sixmiles north of Brookhaven. Since Monday, numerous local and stateagencies had participated in the search effort, which was scaledback Wednesday to daylight hours only in the interest ofsafety.

The reasoning behind Berry’s unfortunate fall into the murkywater is unknown.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever know why he had fallen over,” saidGaley.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris said the cause of death isstill under investigation.

“There will be an autopsy done this weekend at the state medicalexaminer’s office in Jackson,” said McMorris.

The search for Berry included the use of divers and dogs. In theend it was sonar technology that located the body.

Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a nonprofitorganization that began in August of 2000, made a call Wednesdayevening to lend a helping hand in the discovery of Berry.

“They called and offered their assistance free of charge and wetold them to come on,” Galey said.

Dennis Watters, co-owner of TeamWatters, Inc., along with hiswife arrived on the scene around 7:30 a.m. Thursday on behalf ofTexas EquuSearch.

The couple from Illinois was given a briefing on safety and wastold where officials thought the body might be located. Watterssaid everything “ran like clockwork” upon his arrival and he wasable to make the discovery using side scan sonar.

“If you dry up the lake and take a picture, that’s basicallywhat I see,” said Watters. “It’s a very detailed picture of what Ican see.”

While there may have been no divers in the water, Watters wasnot the only person using sonar to search for the missing body. Heand his wife did not take full credit for the discovery.

“It wasn’t just us, it was the whole crew here,” said Watters.”They were a good group to work with.”

The Illinois team only needed to make a short trip from southernLouisiana where they were helping the Saint Charles ParishSheriff’s Department in a recovery mission.

“We’ve already recovered three persons just this year,” saidWatters.

Poor visibility underwater and debris contributed to thedifficulties in locating the body.

“There’s so much debris down there,” said Galey. “The divers hadto search through all that debris to figure it out.”

Galey took the time to thank the multiple volunteerorganizations that assisted in the search and recovery and said thediscovery would not have been possible without their help.

“Everybody out here is thankful we were able to make therecovery, but we are ready to go home and get some rest,” saidGaley.