JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – The search continued Friday for a missing man and his vehicle that were washed off the road in Buck’s Pocket State Park on Thursday.
The low temperatures and sheer force and volume of the water rushing through Sauty Creek made for a slow recovery process.
Volunteer crews from various Northeast Alabama agencies braved the near-freezing temperatures, donned several layers and life jackets to search the shoreline.
“Just look for things that are out of the normal, could be debris or a car, clothing,” said Desoto Rescue Squad’s JD Trammell.
An Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) helicopter flew around the site where the man and his car were swept away by floodwaters.
Trammell told WHNT News 19 while they hoped to help, they were also concerned about their own safety.
“The water is moving pretty quick, the temperature is, of course, a factor, it’s spitting snow so we have to be safe there, the ground could be slippery in the snow, the ice. The swiftness of the current, one foot in the water, could pull you down inside it,” said Trammell.
This road where the incident happened is a trouble area.
“Within the last two years, we’ve had two accidents that have been bad for the families that have weighed personally on me. No one wants to see a death,” said Northeast Alabama State Parks District Superintendent Michael Jeffreys.
Jeffreys said the now-flooded bridge connects Jackson and Dekalb counties and runs through the state park, but emphasized it is not owned by the park.
Jeffreys said the three groups are all working together now to make sure no other vehicle gets washed away. It is something he said they have discussed since Koy Spears’s death in February of 2019. Spears was in a Jeep that was swept away in the same area of Buck’s Pocket State Park.
Jeffreys said they are hoping to put up some sort of gate blocking the road.
“Just like anything, and especially when there’s partnerships. Everything takes time, but going forward I think that we’ll have something in place preventing this from happening again,” added Jeffreys.
With the high water levels and more wet weather in the forecast next week, it could be several more days if not weeks to find the man and his vehicle.
Water conditions have improved considerably, and the search will continue on Saturday. The ALEA helicopter will return Saturday around 9:30 a.m., weather permitting.
As of 9 p.m. on Saturday, Trooper Chuck Daniel said search crews were unable to locate the missing driver. He said the search will continue on Sunday.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Sunday Trooper Daniel said the search ended on Sunday without locating the missing driver. He said the search has been suspended indefinitely due to incoming weather to the area throughout the week. The search will continue when it is safe for rescue crews to operate in the park, according to Trooper Daniel.