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Search ongoing for missing Copiah County duck hunters

The search continues for two Copiah County residents who went missing while duck hunting along the Mississippi River.

Gunner Palmer, 16, and Zeb Hughes, 21, were last seen Thursday.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace told media outlets investigators recovered the boat the two were riding in, along with their hunting gear and safety vests.

“We’re focusing on an area about a three- or four-mile stretch that extends from the LeTourneau Landing south,” Pace said. “We don’t have any way of knowing whether these young men made it out of the river or no. It was a cold, rainy afternoon, the water temperature was hovering between 49 and 50 degrees. This is a very brutal environment to survive in, so we have no way of knowing at this point if these young men made it out of the water, or whether they did not. We just don’t have anyway of knowing that right now.”

The search extended Saturday more than seven miles south of the landing on the Mississippi side of the river, Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs told The Vicksburg Post, and five miles south on the Louisiana side.

“As of right now, we are going to cancel ground searches moving forward and strictly focus our search on the water,” Briggs said Saturday evening. “Ground search efforts will stay discontinued until we find any additional evidence that leads us to believe they made it to the bank.”

Sheriff Pace said a crew will continue to search daily for Palmer and Hughes until answers can be given to the families.

“In every situation like this it’s important that they know what happened and they have some answers, and we’re going to do everything we can,” said Pace. “We have excellent cooperation from multiple agencies and we’re working very hard to give them some answers, and we’re praying we will give them a good answer.”