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Search for Two Missing Fishermen Suspended After Discovery Of Submerged Boat

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Two volunteers watch from the shoreline as a search and rescue boat returns to DuPont Reservation Conservation Area after searching the area near Gilbert Island. (Ethan Colbert/Bowling Green Times Photo)


**This story has been updated to include the latest information from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department. It will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. It was last updated at 4:30.**

By Ethan Colbert

The search for two missing fishermen has been suspended, according to law enforcement officials.

According to Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Perkins, the search has been suspended in order to allow a dive team from the Missouri State Highway Patrol to arrive on scene.

“Our search area has narrowed to a very specific area,” Perkins said in a telephone interview with the Bowling Green Times. For this investigation, Perkins is serving as the spokesperson for the department.

The dive team has been requested after search teams discovered a boat submerged underwater in a cove of the Mississippi River approximately two miles south of the DuPont Reservation Conservation Area.

In his telephone interview, Perkins said he was unsure when the dive team would arrive on scene tomorrow morning. The local Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said it remains unclear if the submerged boat is the boat belonging to the two missing fishermen.

As was first reported by the Bowling Green Times, Earl Fogel and Dave Hultz arrived at the conservation area, which is located in northern Pike County. The two men, both seasoned commercial fishermen, took to the river to check fishing nets and to place new nets.

According to the local Sheriff’s Department, around 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the men checked in with their families. That was the last time the men were heard from.

When the two men failed to return home, a concerned family member contacted 911 around 8:30 p.m. to report the two men as missing.

As officers investigated, they found a Ford pick-up truck parked in the parking area of DuPont Reservation Conservation Area. The truck belongs to one of the missing men.

As the search progressed, search crews took to the Mississippi River and began combing the waters for signs of the missing men. Among those searching yesterday evening were search teams from Louisiana Fire and Rescue, the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri Highway Patrol’s Water Safety Division, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Pike County, Illinois Water Rescue organization.

Perkins said that the search teams spent the evening combing about 45 miles of the Mississippi River.

According to Perkins, the search is focusing on the areas of the river — between Saverton and Clarksville — where the two men were known to fish.

The overnight search was halted Tuesday evening, but resumed around 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Assisting in the search on Wednesday morning was a helicopter search and rescue team. The helicopter had been unable to assist on Tuesday night due to poor flying conditions.

In a joint press conference on Wednesday morning, Perkins said that the Pike County Sheriff’s Department had been able to ping a location from one of the missing men’s cell phones.

According to another deputy, the location of the cell phone placed the men near Kinderhook, Illinois, which is northeast of the DuPont Reservation Conservation Area.

In the press conference, Perkins said that the size of the Mississippi River and its many tributaries continues to be a factor in the search effort.

“It is a big river,” Perkins said. “There are a lot of tributaries and there is a lot of space to look. We are trying to deal with the size of everything.”

According to Perkins, search teams are looking for potential debris that might be from the fishermen’s boat, which has been described as a silver johnboat. He said search teams have also been given descriptions about what the two men were wearing at the time they went fishing.

“Anything that they see that fits that description, then we are committing resources to that area,” Perkins said. The sheriff’s department spokesperson said he did not have any knowledge as to whether or not the men were wearing safety vests at the time of their departure from DuPont.

“Both men are experienced fishermen, who have experience out on this river,” Perkins said. “Will search until we find something. We will search until we find something, or until all search efforts are extinguished by time.”

At this time, Perkins said everyone involved in the search and rescue effort are handling the search as a rescue effort. He also described the next 24 to 48 hours as critical for the two fishermen.

“At this moment, this is a rescue effort,” Perkins said. “There has been nothing to indicate otherwise.“