DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. – Search teams spent days searching for a missing teen and the Jeep that authorities say was swept away in floodwaters at Buck’s Pocket State Park. Authorities confirmed Wednesday evening that the search for Koy Spears, 18, has been suspended until further notice because of the incoming rain and unsafe conditions.
Two other teenagers, a male and female, managed to hang onto a tree until rescuers got them to safety Friday night.
Teams set up a grid and went through the creek section-by-section to eliminate areas while looking for the vehicle the teens had been in Friday evening.
A helicopter, boats, divers, and sonar were used to search for Spears.
One team in the search found evidence that a possible vehicle was under the water. However, a scuba diver was not able to go in and search the area because of swift currents.
Crews and agencies from DeKalb, Jackson, and Marshall Counties helped with the search, along with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the state emergency management agency.
Michael Jeffreys, District Superintendent for the Alabama State Parks Northeast District, said at the end of the day they still believe they have possibly located a vehicle, but they are still not confident. They now believe they need to wait until conditions change to continue the search.
Authorites are not sure how long it will take to locate Spears. Conditions are already dangerous at the search area. Waters are moving fast with currents upward of 10 miles per hour. With the current weather trend, and water levels, and expected to have more rain, it is not safe for divers to proceed right now.
Trooper Chuck Ellis said in a statement to media Wednesday night:
“We must be patient as Mother Nature runs her course & the water subsides. Safety of our 1st responders is paramount. When we ask people to think during times of severe weather & such, this is why. That decision made in a split second could end up effecting the safety of many 1st responders as they attempt to respond to do their job. We know we’ll always respond & do our best; but it stings when we must take a step back, and realize our safety is important too.”
Early Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement said a swift water rescue team discovered what appeared to be a vehicle beneath the water.
They called in a scuba diver from Etowah County and a heavy recovery rotator wrecker. But the diver was not able to submerge and search the area where the possible vehicle was found because of strong current.
Family members remain hopeful, and authorities thank all the agencies and volunteers who came to assist. They said now it is time to regroup and assess what other resources they have to continue the search another time when it is safe to do so.