Tuscaloosa police find body of missing UA student Garrett Walker

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE (11/9): The Tuscaloosa Police Department says they have positively identified the body of 20-year-old University of Alabama student Garrett Walker.

TPD Chief Brent Blankley said divers recovered his body just before 4 p.m. Walker’s family and UA students have been notified, according to Blankley.

Divers focused on the area of the Black Warrior River near the old Bama Belle boat landing, according to TPD. Walker had been first reported missing Sunday afternoon.

Stuart Bell, president at the University of Alabama, released the following statement on Walker’s death:

“Our University of Alabama community is heartbroken by the loss of our student, Garrett Walker. Our prayers and deepest sympathy are with his family, friends and loved ones as we mourn his passing. The UA counseling center is available for those affected by the mournful news of his passing.”

Following identification of Walker’s body, his family released the following statement:

“Garrett Walker’s family is devastated by the announcement from Tuscaloosa Police that his body
was pulled from the Black Warrior River following a multi-day search.

‘We remember Garrett as a young man of faith,’ said his mother, Debbie Walker. “’We were so
proud of him. He was dedicated to his faith and his friends, he loved to learn, and was so excited
about studying at the University of Alabama.’

“Garrett was a Junior Aerospace Engineering Student at UA. A private pilot with significant
aviation experience, Garrett selected University of Alabama to follow in his grandfather’s
footsteps as an engineer.

‘He was proud to be a student here and to was eager to make his mark in the world,’” said
Andrew Walker, his father. “’Our son was an exceptional young man. There are no words to
describe our loss.’”

“Garrett’s large family includes his two twin brothers and a sister. They are now planning
Garrett’s funeral.

“Andrew and Debbie thank the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Fire and Rescue divers, the
University of Alabama community and everyone who engaged in the search for their son. A Go
Fund me page has been established by the family in order to endow a scholarship honoring
Garrett’s life. They now ask for privacy as they grieve.”

FAMILY OF GARRETT WALKER

No other information has been released as this is an ongoing investigation.

ORIGINAL (11/8) — Police and fire crews are searching the Black Warrior River for a missing University of Alabama student last seen early Sunday morning.  

Garrett Walker, a 20-year-old junior from Maryland, was last seen at the Gray Lady bar in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Police Chief Brent Blankley says he believes Walker is in the river because of evidence found on the Black Warrior River bank. Walker’s cell phone and some clothing items were discovered on the bank near the river walk.

“We have reason to believe he is in the Black Warrior River, we retrieved some of his clothing items that led us to believe this. Our divers have been in the water nonstop and will continue to stay in the water to try to locate him inside the river.”

Search crews are using three boats to search the river, first responders are also using drones to see if any more evidence can be seen from the air. Fire Chief Randy Smith tells CBS 42 boat crews are using sophisticated underwater sonar to locate Walker.  

“We are utilizing drones in the air to see if we can locate anything on the bank. We’ve done numerous underwater searches and they are running both ends of the river back and forth looking for anything using side-scan sonar. If they find anything we will drop a buoy and we will bring in a diver to check.”

Chief Smith tells CBS 42 dive teams and rescue boats are planning to search the Black Warrior River until 9 p.m. Monday night and are planning to resume the search Tuesday if necessary.

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