GUNTERSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) – The president of the Guntersville Rescue Squad said he is confident the body found in the lake Tuesday is the man who went missing early January after investigators said he jumped off the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Frank Myers said he spoke briefly with Deonta Griffin’s father, who recognized the shoes.
“To our knowledge there wasn’t another subject out there to be found. With the clothing we were told he was wearing, personally I’m satisfied that this is Mr. Griffin,” Myers said.
“[His father] was relieved that finally this is one step closer to closure for them.”
Official identification will come from the Department of Forensics. Investigators said Griffin jumped off the bridge January 5 after a high speed chase that began in Boaz.
“We started our search January 5 about 11 o’clock that night and thank God we wound it up about 6 o’clock [Tuesday] afternoon. We have been searching continuously since, unless it was severe weather that would not permit us to be out there,” Myers said.
He said teams went out on the water doing visual searches for about four hours every day, and Tuesday a search team member spotted what looked like a shirt floating up and down near a lake bank by the Warrenton community. A closer inspection found the body.
“It was a relief. I wouldn’t say joy at all, but it was a relief, a tremendous relief,” Myers said.
It was the same area of the lake where the Rescue Squad found the body of a pilot who drowned in a crash 16 years ago. It took two months to find him, and longer to find Griffin.
“This gentleman was [missing] three months, 18 days. It’s been a long drawn-out thing. We have a very dedicated group of people that just weren’t going to give up,” Myers said.
Rescue Squad officials said the official search involving law enforcement lasted for just over a week. Myers said his records show 2,200 man hours went into those first eight days of rescue efforts, including the use of underwater cameras by a dive team, and cadaver sniffing dogs from several Tennessee Valley groups.
The Guntersville Rescue Squad kept on working.
“It didn’t [end] with us until yesterday and everything. Some people were saying we’d quit searching but we never quit, we just had to change our mode of operation,” Myers said.
“We scaled back to visual search every day. Just wanted to find him when he came up.
“Fortunately that was yesterday.”
The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the case as it progresses.