Bainbridge Post searchlight
The fisherman missing on the Flint River since Monday was found dead on Friday morning, said Major Wendell Cofer of the Sheriffs Office.
The body of 29-year-old Fredrick Ricky Davis Jr., of 504 Flint River Heights, was found shortly before 9 a.m. Sheriffs deputies found the missing mans body floating underwater on a stretch of river north of the Big Slough but south of the Flint River Heights landing, where Davis had apparently put his boat out onto the river Monday night, Cofer said. Eleven deputies and two Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers in four boats had resumed the multi-day search at 7 a.m. Friday, he said.
Cofer said the searchers were traveling down the river at idling speed and searching along river banks. He said investigators had done flotation experiments Thursday to gauge the rate of the river current and objects drift, in order to help narrow the search area.
Sgt. Rick Ashley, who was in one of the boats, spotted part of Davis? body rising above the water surface, Cofer said. The body was removed from the river and later transported to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Moultrie, Ga., where an autopsy will be performed, he said. Cofer said Davis was found fully clothed and Sheriffs investigators did not see any physical indication of how he might have fallen into the river.
Area law enforcement officers had been searching for Davis since Tuesday afternoon, when his wife reported him missing after he failed to return from checking on fishing lines in the river near his home. Davis family did not see him leave his home, but he had told his wifes grandmother he was going to check on trot lines between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, Sheriff Wiley Griffin said earlier this week.
Davis had not returned by 3 a.m. Tuesday, when his wife woke up in the night and saw the light on the home?s back porch was on, Cofer said. Davis? family went out onto the river to search for him at midday Tuesday and when they could not find him, reported him missing. Davis? Jeep Cherokee and boat trailer were still parked at the Flint River Heights landing.
Cofer said he estimated approximately 500 man hours were used in the search.
Sheriffs deputies and Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers began searching the river shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday. Soon after, DNR fishery researchers working on the river found Davis? 12-foot aluminum jon boat overturned and caught on a tree limb sticking out from the river bank, Griffin said.
The boats battery had fallen out of the boat, and the boat?s trolling motor was positioned in a way that indicated it had been used, he said. The boat was found alongside a stretch of river bank known as Honey Bee Bluff, about halfway between Bainbridge and Flint River Heights, Cofer said. When the DNR researchers heard a be-on-the-lookout notice containing the report that Davis was missing, they contacted law enforcement, he said.
On Thursday, Sheriffs deputies found an ice chest with Davis? name and a gas can floating on the river about four miles downstream from Flint River Heights, Cofer said. Deputies and DNR rangers had spent most of the daylight hours on Wednesday and Thursday patrolling the river in four boats, searching for any sign of Davis.
They also used special cameras designed to see underwater to search for Davis body, Griffin said. Sheriffs investigators joined members of the Thomas County Underwater Rescue Unit in underwater searches conducted for several hours on Wednesday but were unsuccessful in finding anything, he said. A Georgia State Patrol helicopter had scoured the area near the river from the air on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Cofer said. Cofer said a cadaver search dog was brought in on Friday but was never used.
Davis had fished regularly since he was 6 years old, his aunt Carolyn Ingle said Wednesday. His uncle Gary Ingle said it was not unusual for Davis to check on his trot lines during the night.
Davis was enrolled in a work/study program at Bainbridge College, said Greg McDonald, director of continuing education and public service. Davis took computer-aided drafting classes and assisted with office duties.
Were very sad at the loss, McDonald said. ?We?ll really miss him, he played a big part in the success of the department.
Dr. Rob Gingras, vice-president of academic affairs at Bainbridge College, said Ricky was an outstanding student at the college. We appreciate his work in the continuing education department. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
McDonald described Davis as a fun, kind-hearted person who had helped his wife care for her grandmother at their home.
He would do anything you asked, McDonald said. He was a family-oriented person...he had a servant?s heart.
Davis leaves behind his wife, Clara, a 10-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, among other family.