Search continues for swimmer missing in Wimbee Creek

astice@islandpacket.comMay 28, 2013 

The search continues for a man who disappeared while swimming in Wimbee Creek Monday afternoon, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, which is assisting in the search, has identified the missing swimmer as Steven Edward Wright Jr., 28, of Beaufort.

Wright was with family at the Wimbee Creek Landing when he jumped off the boat dock into the water at about 2:15 p.m., authorities said.

His relatives soon called emergency responders to report him as a swimmer in distress, according to an email from Sheriff's Office Sgt. Robin McIntosh. Witnesses said he appeared to be quickly pulled out into the channel by strong currents.

Monday's search by water and air -- which also included the Sheldon Fire District, DNR, Beaufort Water Search & Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard -- ended at about 6:30 p.m., according to Sheldon Fire Chief Buddy Jones.

The recovery effort was turned over Tuesday morning to DNR and the Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol Unit. Boats were back on the water and "will be out (there) every day until we make a recovery," said DNR Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas.

A DNR fixed-wing aircraft also flew overhead Tuesday morning and will fly again today, if necessary, Thomas said.

In addition to the strong currents, McIntosh said alcohol is being considered a factor in Wright's disappearance because he reportedly had consumed several drinks.

Wimbee Creek is accessible by a narrow dirt road that connects to Keans Neck Road in Dale.

The waterway drains into the Coosaw River and eventually into the ocean.

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