Body of Wesson teen recovered from Strong River

Published 7:02 pm Friday, July 1, 2016

The body of a missing swimmer was found Thursday in the Strong River in Simpson County.

Authorities said Dakota Epps, 18, of Wesson, was found not far from where he went into the river at the D’Lo Water Park, just outside Mendenhall, according to media reports.

Services for Epps are 2 p.m. Sunday at Westside Baptist Church with burial at Bethesda Cemetery. Stringer Family Funeral Home in Hazlehurst is in charge of arrangements.

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Epps, a 2016 graduate of Wesson High School, is the son of Dennis and Darlene Epps.

Authorities found the teen’s body at 4 a.m. Thursday.  Simpson County Sheriff Donald O’Cain said he believes Epps drowned in a hole approximately 15-feet deep around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Several agencies including the Smith County Dive Team, Simpson County Sheriff’s Department, Mendenhall Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks helped in the search.

Richard Harper, the chief-of-staff for the SCSD, said Epps was in the water with his girlfriend. Someone on a rope swing jumped into the water, and that’s when Epps started to struggle.

“I have conflicting reports as to whether or not they actually struck him or just landed real close to him and this caused the subject to go under,” Harper said.

Harper said ropes are not allowed at the D’Lo Water Park. Several have actually been cut down over the years.

D’Lo Water Park is a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking and tubing along the Strong River.

The park includes a playground, ball fields, pavilions, primitive camps, camper sites and a bait shop.