Body of father missing after boating accident found in Jourdan River (Updated 7;45 p.m.)

klnelson@sunherald.comMay 6, 2012 

— The county’s search and rescue team found the body of Ernest Johnson, 53, around 6 p.m. in the Jourdan River.

Thunder and lightning in the area near the Mississippi 603 bridge hampered the search at times, according to Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam. But when the weather was stable, the team used divers and sonar in the effort to locate Johnson.

Johnson was boating with his 13-year-old daughter near the bridge when they both were thrown from the boat and into the river, Adam said.

Adam said the incident happened around 9 a.m. Emergency crews worked out of the parking lot at the Jourdan River Steamer restaurant to coordinate the effort.

The restaurant’s security camera caught some of what happened, said owner Hank Plauche. He said the tape wasn’t clear but it looked as if Johnson was trying to start his boat motor after it had stopped.

Plauche said it appeared the motor was in gear “and sort of took off when it started,” throwing him and his daughter into the water.

The girl was rescued. Plauche said she told her family that her father threw her a life jacket. Family and friends gathered at the restaurant during the search. Plauche said 35 emergency vehicles are in his parking lot at one point during the search effort.

Read more in Monday’s Sun Herald.

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