Search for the Missing Swimmer in Columbia Continues

A person is still missing after going missing in the Congaree on Sunday.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) It has been over 24 hours since a man went missing at the Congaree river. The search is now being labeled a recovery.

Multiple agencies sent dive crews and boats on the water to search the area between the Gervais bridge and the Blossom Street bridge. A helicopter provided an aerial view. The search was suspended on Monday night around 6:15 PM. 

Officials at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) say there are a lot of different factors that make swimming in the river very dangerous, especially for those who may not be strong swimmers.

"It’s a terrible thing anytime somebody loses their life, and it happens all too often here at the Congaree river," said Sergeant Rhett Bickley with SCDNR.

Bickley says people tend to underestimate the power of the river's current.

"You have varied terrain where you could be walking along and all of a sudden hit the current channel and the bottom drops out from under you," Bickley said."You could have the current pull you into places you don't want to be and just fighting against a current when you're trying to swim will tire you out quicker."

Bickley says the underwater debris can make a tough situation even worse.

"You have very rocky areas, you have boulders the size of a truck, you have trees, root masses," Bickley said, "the current can press you up against a log and then you’re unable to pull yourself out of that situation."

"It’s a lot farther than you think it is across the river if you attempt to swim it," said Sergeant Hogan Tyler with SCDNR.

Tyler says the best way to keep safe is to wear a life jacket.

"The name says it all," Tyler said. "Somebody that might not be a strong swimmer that’s waist deep, if they step onto a deep hole they may panic, whereas if they had on a life jacket it may keep them afloat."

"There’s nothing wrong with swimming in a river, you just want to be safe about it," Bickley said. "You want to know that wherever you’re going to go, you’re capable of handling conditions."

"It’s important to just know your boundaries and know how to swim," said Sean Schutt, at the river with his family.

Schutt says he and his family love spending spare time at the river, but always stay cautious.

"It’s nice to have, but it’s a responsibility we have four ourselves and for our children to make sure we stay safe," Schutt said.

Officials with SCDNR say they will be back on the water searching for the missing swimmer tomorrow, but that the dive teams are finished. They will continue the search with surface crews on boats and aerially via helicopter.

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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