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Archive for Friday, May 15, 1998

DIVERS STILL SEARCHING FOR DROWNED BOATER

May 15, 1998

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— Divers used sonar and Global Positioning System hardware on Thursday to search for the body of a 69-year-old man at Perry Lake who has been missing since his boat capsized Wednesday night.

The search for Huey L. Johnson, 69, Kansas City, Kan., was called off just before dusk Thursday. Crews were on the lake all day Thursday, and will resume efforts again about 8 a.m. today.

A group of family members waiting near the boat ramp declined to comment.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roy Dunnaway said the search area encompasses a quarter-mile wide stretch of water that begins at the Kansas Highway 92 bridge and ends three-quarters of a mile to the north.

``Our biggest problem on the lake is how the water moves things, the wind moves things,'' said Dunnaway, near the Old Town Boat Ramp, which was closed to serve as a base of operations.

``In the past, we've been up to a mile off (from where the body was found),'' he said. ``It's hard for people to look out on the lake and pinpoint where they were, especially if they are going through some trauma.''

Johnson and a 63-year-old man, whom authorities have not identified, were fishing when the boat capsized about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The younger man was wearing a life jacket and swam to shore. Johnson, who was not wearing a life jacket, is presumed to have drowned.

``If he was out on the lake and went down like (his friend) said, he didn't make it out,'' Dunnaway said.

The water varies from three to 60 feet deep in the search area, and efforts were not only hampered by winds, but by thick brush in the shallow areas.

The sheriff's department, which has its own scuba rescue team, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will continue the search on the lake, along with shore-line checks.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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