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Body of missing man found near Big Black

Herbert Poole of Vicksburg looks on as nephew, Thomas Poole, comforts his sister, Dorothy “June” Wicker, Monday at the site where her husband’s body was found off Mississippi 27 west of the Big Black River. Mack Wicker, 51, of Crystal Springs had been reported missing on March 14 after visiting relatives in the Vicksburg area. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[04/10/01] A Crystal Springs man missing since March 14 was ejected through the windshield of his truck when it hit the side of a bridge near the Big Black River and he drowned in the swirling waters below, authorities believe.

Family members searched the area Monday and found the body of Mack Wicker, who was 51, downstream from the Mississippi 27 bridge. His truck had been found Friday near the river, which has been rising and falling rapidly due to spring rains.

The day he was last seen, Wicker had been visiting relatives in Vicksburg and across the Mississippi River in Louisiana. His last stop was Beechwood Restaurant and Lounge in Vicksburg about midnight, according to credit card receipts traced by Warren County Deputy Sheriff Jason Bailess.

When he did not make it back to his Crystal Springs home, about 50 miles southeast on Mississippi 27, his wife officially reported him missing.

Wicker’s family placed posters around Vicksburg, asking for information leading to locating him and his red Ford F-150.

Responding to a citizen report that a red vehicle had been seen from a bridge over a creek just west of the Big Black, sheriff’s department officials hauled Wicker’s pickup from the water.

“We had been checking the water level daily and (Monday) morning Chief of Detectives Jay McKenzie checked again and found that it was down enough to search,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

In the meantime, Thomas Poole, Wicker’s brother-in-law from Boulder, Colo., went to the area with some other family members.

Poole said they began walking the creek bank, looking for some sign of Wicker.

“We got about 200 yards down there and we noticed something on the bank on the other side of a backwash,” Poole said. “I crossed a log and he was lying on the other side.”

He said they started looking at 8 a.m. Monday, made the discovery at 10 and called the sheriff’s office on a cell phone.

Pace said he and his deputies received word Wicker had been found as they were headed back to the area with rubber boots to handle the swampy terrain.

Pace said the spot where Wicker was found was about 200 yards from the bridge on the downstream side. The truck apparently went off the bridge on the upstream side.

Dorothy “June” Wicker, his wife, said finding the body helps. “We had been searching for him all this time. We just knew he was under a bridge somewhere but we just couldn’t find him,” she said.

Carol Jolly of Newellton, Wicker’s sister, said finding the body will help the family cope with his death.

“This is not the result I was hoping for, but it’s the one I’ll have to live with,” Jolly said.

When the truck was found, Pace said he believed it had hit the bridge several times before it went over the railing. The windshield was broken.

“I feel, from what we know now, he was ejected from the truck by the initial impact,” Pace said. “The windshield was broken from the inside out.”

Wicker’s body apparently floated from the bridge to where it was found Monday. An autopsy was performed at Mississippi Mortuary Services.

Warren County Coroner John Thomason said Wicker’s death will be ruled as caused by drowning following a motor vehicle accident.

Fisher-Riles Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.