Search for missing Missouri fisherman continues

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PIGGOTT, Ark. -- Arkansas authorities resumed their search Tuesday for a Campbell, Mo., man missing in the St. Francis River after his boat capsized over the holiday weekend.

After searching all day Sunday and Monday for Charles Dickens, 30, authorities switched their efforts to a recovery operation late Monday afternoon, according to Clay County, Ark., Sheriff Gerald McClung.

"Right now, we're at the recovery stage; we're waiting on time," McClung said. "We will search that area again where they went down."

McClung said the search is focused on the area between the bridge at Highway 1, which goes to Holcomb, Mo., and a drift, located about five miles south of the Highway 84 bridge going into Kennett, Mo.

McClung said Dickens' boat capsized near the Highway 1 bridge, east of Piggott, at about 5 a.m. Sunday.

"They went down the levee about three-quarters of a mile from Highway 1; they put the boat in the water and launched there," McClung explained. "They just got into the main stream, started the engine and began north toward Highway 1."

The boat's front end, McClung said, immediately began to take on water and capsized.

McClung described the water at that location as being at least 15 feet deep and "so swift … because the water right now is still up (with) stuff coming down."

"Dunklin County received a 911 call that a boat had capsized in the river," McClung said. "They called us, the Clay County Sheriff's Department; when we arrived, there were two people, two males -- Shannon Dye of Holcomb and Johnny Kotte of Campbell -- (who) were there.

"They managed to get out of the water and find their way back to the highway."

At that point, both Dickens and his 26-year-old wife, Lisa Dickens, were missing, McClung said.

"We got the rescue squad in there and searched, and at about 9:30 that morning, we were able to locate Lisa Dickens," McClung said.

After holding onto branches to stay out of the water, Lisa Dickens, who was wearing a life jacket, managed to make it to a bank, McClung said. Not being familiar with the area, he said, Lisa Dickens wandered around in the woods.

When she heard a boat, "she went toward the sound and began to scream," McClung said. "They were able to rescue her."

The last time Lisa Dickens saw her husband, he asked her whether she had a life jacket, which she did, McClung said.

Charles Dickens, McClung said, was not wearing a life jacket, but had one close to him.

"They were hollering at each other," McClung said. " … He was trying to push the boat to shore" when he was last seen.

"We knew some of the things in the boat and picked some up along the river," between the bridges, McClung said.

Authorities, he said, also knew of "this huge drift south of the Kennett bridge," McClung said. "Nothing can get by that."

Although the river isn't wide there, McClung said, the drift is about a mile long and filled with "all kinds of debris."

On Sunday, McClung said, he and a game warden pulled up at the drift and saw the boat partially submerged under the drift.

"We were able to get (the boat) out; some of the stuff was intact in the boat, (and) we were able to retrieve that," McClung said.

Assisting in the search were members of the Clay County Search and Rescue, Dunklin County Sheriff's Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol's Water Division, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, as well as numerous volunteers, McClung said.

Dunklin County Sheriff Bob Holder said he made people available to assist over the weekend and had called McClung Tuesday morning, offering to make officers available if they were needed.

The Jonesboro, Ark., Police Department, he said, also volunteered to bring its cadaver dogs in to assist in the search.

Pertinent address:

Piggott, AR

Campbell, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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