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FL: Search called off for missing duck hunter

December 21, 2009

Duck Hunter Search Continues

A search and rescue operation is underway in Chattahoochee, Florida as authorities look for a missing hunter.

Search and rescuers spent Monday combing Lake Seminole looking for a missing duck hunter, but didn't have any luck.

John Mark Slappey was out duck hunting on a boat on the lake Sunday with his brother- in- law, and at some point went out onto a floating device near the buoys.

It wasn't long before witnesses spotted him drifting with the current towards the dam.

"It was approximately four to five minutes from the time we noticed him til the time he went through the spillway. We had made attempts made rescue efforts all rescue efforts possible got the crane in position to lower the gate in hopes that we could drop it in time to catch John.," says Jason Barrentine, Power Project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We're actually in an above flood stage so it's making it very difficult because the current is you know four or five times fold what it normally is," says Vann Pullen, chief of police in Chattahoochee.

Witnesses say Slappey surfaced twice, but they did not see him after that. The search will continue and they remain hopeful.

"There's usually no time line on it, we will continue this until we know we've done enough. I would expect through Thursday or Friday, possibly later than that," says Lt. Neil Pearce, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Slappey's family drove down from Albany but declined to speak with us on camera.

Search and rescue teams say while they'll often search for missing boaters on the lake, it's pretty unusual for anyone to be that close to the dam, but they'll continue their efforts on the water and in the air until he is found.

Wildlife Conservation Commission officers ended their search for 34-year old John Mark Slappey just before sundown Sunday.

Slappey was out duck hunting in a boat on Lake Seminole with his step-brother earlier in the day. He went out on the water in a flotation device and drifted with the current toward the Jim Woodruff Dam. Witnesses spotted the hunter in the dangerous waters around 12:40p.m and tried to save him by throwing out a life raft but were unsuccessful. Officials searched for Slappey for more than four hours before calling the search off until 8a.m Monday.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said 34-year-old John Mark Slappey was duck hunting on Lake Seminole when he went missing at around 1p.m Sunday.

Authorities said he and his step-brother, both of Albany, Georgia, were hunting from a boat earlier in the day.

He was last spotted by officials at Jim Woodruff Dam being carried by the current.

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