Recovery efforts for missing boater to continue Thursday at first light at Ditto Landing

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-- The search, called off around 8 PM Wednesday night, will continue Thursday morning for a missing swimmer. First responders answered a call of a boat in distress early Wednesday morning at Huntsville's Ditto Landing.

Three swimmers were found and rescued, but a fourth swimmer is still missing. The Morgan County rescue squad is leading the search but is now treating it as a recovery operation.

Recovery efforts are still ongoing at Ditto Landing. Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin says they are pooling all their resources together to try to find the missing boater.

They are calling it a drowning accident as of right now. Sheriff Franklin said the river's current is so strong that by the time rescue efforts are underway the missing person could be miles from where they first were, and that's what takes so long to find them.

"One of the members of the group is still missing at this time. He is believed to be a potential victim of drowning," said Sheriff Franklin.

Sheriff Franklin said the missing boater is a 31-year-old male. Rescue efforts have been ongoing since 5 Wednesday morning and will continue into tomorrow.

"At 5:30 dogs will be called on scene. They'll leave out at approximately 6 a.m., to start  the cadaver search on the water," she said.

Sheriff Franklin said Morgan County is working with other law enforcement agencies to do the best they can in the recovery effort.

"We've also had divers and drowning, dragging equipment, as well as sonar that we're working now," she added.

The missing boater was not wearing a life jacket. Sheriff Franklin said sadly this has been something they've dealt with all summer.

"Almost always without exception the lack of proper life saving equipment, life jackets and that sort of thing, has been a common thing, " she said.

Sheriff Franklin did say that alcohol is a possible factor. She said law enforcement is especially concerned with Labor Day coming up and people out on the river drinking.  She urges boaters to take every precaution, and always wear a life jacket.