Body found in river near bridges

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Warren County sheriff’s deputies remove the body of an unidentified man from the Mississippi River under the Interstate 20 bridge this morning.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[9/04/2001]The body of a man spotted in the Mississippi River this morning was recovered and authorities were seeking positive identification and any clue as to why he was in the water.

The victim is believed to be the person seen swimming in the river Sunday morning. No one has reported anyone missing. No abandoned vehicles have been reported.

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People at Ameristar Casino, just upstream of the river bridges, called 911 at 10:53 a.m. Sunday.

“Witnesses said he appeared to be swimming and started fighting the current and then went under,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Sunday.

Officers from the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Vicksburg Fire Department and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks searched Sunday until forced from the river by rain. Sheriff’s deputies searched again all day Monday.

The body recovered this morning was spotted about 8.

Pace said there was a wallet in the pants the man was wearing, but he declined to release a name until the identification can be matched to the body.

Brian Miller, a security guard at the Mississippi Welcome Center, said some employees of the Louisiana Department of Transportation were the first to see the body.

“They were checking the pier under the (I-20) bridge and they came up here and told me they spotted the body,” Miller said this morning.

Miller then called 911.

“We were already on the way to put the boat in when we got the call,” Pace said, “That’s how we got there so quickly.”

After launching the sheriff’s department boat at City Front, Pace, Detectives Johnny Beauchamp and Mike Traxler and Deputy John Roland quickly made their way to the river and the bridges. They were guided to the body by Capt. Mark Culbertson of the Vicksburg Police Department who was radioing directions from the U.S. 80 Bridge.

By the time Pace and deputies arrived at about 8:35, the body was floating several yards south of the I-20 bridge and about 300 yards south of where the swimmer was seen Sunday. They then towed the body to the shelter of a rock dike between the bridges so it could be loaded into the boat safely.

Although he did not release the man’s name, Pace said there is no reason to believe the recovered body is not the same person seen in the river Sunday.

“He was in the exact same spot when he was last seen.” Pace said.

Warren County Coroner John Thomason said the cause of death would be undetermined until he has a chance to examine the body at Williams Funeral Service where it was taken.