Dump truck slides into Mississippi River; truck found, driver missing

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Authorities continued their search Wednesday for the driver of a Riverside Construction Co. dump truck that went into the Mississippi River at the Florida Marine Transport site on the river.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said boats from his office searched the river until after dark Tuesday and returned to the river at first light to resume the search.

Pace said Ergon Marine deployed its river boats soon after the accident was reported Tuesday, and began the surface search at the sheriff’s office’s request.

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“They are a good corporate partner,” Pace said. Two sheriff’s office boats were in the water only minutes behind them,” he said. “The Mississippi River is very deep and unforgiving. Just out from the bank, the bank drops off very steeply, very quickly into very deep water.”

The incident occurred at about 5:15 p.m. at a spot on the riverbank west of the levee on the Florida Marine property, where trucks for Riverside Construction Co. were moving lime rock dredged from the river to another site on the Florida Marine property.

Vicksburg police and firefighters responded to the call, and the Vicksburg Fire Department’s dive team was called to begin searching for the truck.

Vicksburg Police officer Russell Dorsey said the truck was waiting on an incline to get a load of limestone, and the driver, who has not been identified, was unable to stop the truck from falling into the river near a barge.

Although witnesses said the driver was still in the truck when it went in, commercial divers brought in by Riverside did not find him when they discovered the truck under the barge, Riverside vice president Don Miller said.

Miller said the commercial divers were called in to assist with locating the truck.

“We had some divers here on another job, and got them off that job and brought them here,” he said, adding some were from New Orleans and some were from Greenville. “When you work in the river, you use very highly certified divers.”

“We couldn’t go up under the barge,” Atkins said. “We have limitations; they (commercial divers) could do a little bit more.

“The current was very rapid down there and murky; you have to feel your way through. Most of that was out of our range.”

He said the department’s divers were not expected to return to the site unless their assistance was requested.”

Miller said the truck was one of several company trucks moving limestone for Florida Transport, adding the limestone is placed in a hopper on the barge and trucks back up under the hopper to get their loads.

“He’s probably unloaded tens of thousands of tons of rock and hauled safely, and usually, that’s no problem,” he said. “He was going down hill and lost control of that truck, and nobody knows how, or why, but that’s what happened.

“This young man was skilled and trained to drive it, and he was 22 years old, but he had been with us for a couple of years and been driving a long time and was very competent on it.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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