Authorities search for missing boater on Wimbee Creek in northern Beaufort County

mmcnabb@islandpacket.comSeptember 11, 2013 

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The search continues for a 54-year-old man flung from his boat Wednesday in Wimbee Creek near Dale.

Witnesses say the boat carrying Carl Mulligan and another man took a sudden, severe turn, throwing Mulligan into the water near where Wimbee Creek joins Whale Branch, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office news release.

As witnesses went to help, the boat's other occupant, James Albany of Dale, told them his friend was tossed overboard when the steering wheel broke free from its column, causing the boat to turn suddenly. The two were on a fishing trip.

"He was my fishing partner," Albany said. "He was like my brother. We did everything together."

Authorities were notified of the accident at 10:22 a.m., Sheldon Fire District Chief Buddy Jones said.

Boats from the Sheriff's Office, the Sheldon Fire District, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Beaufort Water Search & Rescue Squad and the U.S. Coast Guard launched from the Wimbee Creek Landing, a few miles from where Mulligan disappeared.

Jones said eight boats were in the water looking for Mulligan by 12:30 p.m. They were assisted by a Coast Guard helicopter and DNR plane.

Later in the afternoon, DNR dive teams joined the search near Summerhouse Lane, said DNR fatality investigator Lance Cpl. Gregg Brown. Six divers were searching in shifts, he added.

Mulligan's friends and family congregated at the Wimbee Creek Landing, hoping to hear good news, and to remember him.

Mulligan's sister-in-law, Kathleen Mulligan, said he had served as the best man at her wedding a little more than a month ago.

"He always had a smile on his face," she said. "He was always helping people out. You could wake him up in the middle of the night to help someone and he would do it."

Lenora Mulligan said she had spoken to him Wednesday morning. She said Mulligan enjoyed fishing and often brought back fish to fry.

Mulligan's sister, Mary, said her brother had lived in Dale his entire life.

"He had lots of friends here," she said. "He was a very popular guy. He would do anything for you."

Later in the afternoon, the parents of Steven Wright Jr., a Dale man who drowned while swimming near the boat landing on Memorial Day, came to offer water and support.

"I didn't know the missing man, but when I heard about it, I knew I had to be here," said Carolyn Kintz, Wright's mother.

Mulligan was last seen wearing a brown shirt and boots, the news release said.


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