ST. CHARLES COUNTY – A 49-year-old man and his girlfriend took their pontoon boat out on the Mississippi River early Sunday afternoon. Just hours later St. Charles Central County Fire and Rescue responded to a distressed swimmer dispatch call. The man is now nowhere to be found.
The girlfriend says he decided to anchor the boat around the 230 mile marker so he could jump in the water and go to the bathroom. They were about one mile south of Two Branch Marina and smack dab in the middle of one of the main channels of the river that reaches depths of over 30 feet.
His girlfriend said shortly after he was in the water, he began calling for help and was struggling to stay afloat. Once the victim completely submerged under the water the girlfriend began flagging other boats down for help. No one has seen him since.
The St. Charles Central County Fire & Rescue department arrived on the scene around at around 3:00 p.m. Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Charles City Fire Department, Illinois Conservation Department, and Orchard Farm Fire Protection District joined them shortly after to help aid the search.
St. Charles County Platoon Chief Brandon Jones says there were no reports of the victim being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, and his girlfriend and friends say he was a strong swimmer. Chief Jones says the Mighty Mississippi is not a river to put to the test, and boaters, fishers, and swimmers should respect her power and wear a life jacket at all times.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been using underwater scanning software to try and locate the body. The amount of debris and random objects that resemble body parts at the bottom of the Mississippi River is making their search more difficult, but they are hopeful they will find the body.