Body Found Believed To Be Missing Duck Hunter- UPDATE- Body Found is Slappey

By: Stephanie Salvatore Email
By: Stephanie Salvatore Email

Updated 12:02p.m 1-26

FWC Press Release:

A body found in the Apalachicola River Sunday night is that of missing Albany, Ga. hunter John Mark Slappey.

The medical examiner’s office in Tallahassee confirmed the identity of the body late Monday. Slappey, 34, was duck hunting Dec. 20 in a float tube near the Jim Woodruff Dam when a strong current swept him through an open lock and he disappeared beneath the water.

Searchers discovered Slappey’s body about 25 miles downriver from the dam as they began to look for Ernest Prevatte, 48, of Altha. Prevatte and his 35-year-old son-in-law, Robert Lee Bailey Sr., went out on the Apalachicola River Sunday afternoon on a 14-foot aluminum johnboat to check on a houseboat north of Blountstown.

They were several miles above the Highway 20 Bridge when the boat began taking on water, rolled and sank, Bailey told investigators. Neither man wore a life jacket. Bailey floated downstream in the 53-degree water, climbed out at the Highway 20 Bridge and flagged down a motorist at 8:47 p.m.

Sunday night, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers and an FWC helicopter with a powerful search light looked for Prevatte. They searched again all day Monday.

Those assisting the FWC in the search include Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, Liberty County Search and Rescue, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------UPDATE 6:15 PM 1-25

Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen has confirmed that the body found is that of John Slappey.

To read more on 48-year-old Ernest Prevatt, an Altha resident, who is missing in the Apalachicola river copy and paste the link below:

http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/82653122.html
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It's been more than a month since John Slappey went through the spillway of the Jim Woodruff dam, but authorities believe they have finally found his body.

Slappey was duck hunting out on Lake Seminole when he drifted with the current towards the dam. Search and rescue from several surrounding counties combed the Apalachicola River for weeks, but cold and rough conditions prevented the body from surfacing until now.

Liberty County search and rescue was out on the river Sunday night looking for another man who disappeared, 48-year-old Ernest Prevat an Altha resident, when they came across what they thought was the missing duck hunter, more than 30 miles away from where he went missing.

"We try to look until the body is found, the circumstances in this case I think prolonged as far as it being over 30 days, which is unusual. But you know the volunteers were the ones out there everyday, day in and day out, and they were determined to not quit unless it was absolutely, they had to, so the effort did pay off," says Vann Pullen, Chattahoochee Police Chief.

The body was transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for an autopsy. Investigators will be using dental records to make a positive identification.

"It shows that it's worth always looking, for the family. It helps in the closure I mean, I know it's not any easier but it's part of the closing process that they're going to be able to go through and do and I'm grateful for that."

It would be up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change regulations on how close fisherman and hunters can be to the dam, but Chief Pullen says safety on the water starts with common sense.

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Updated 9:15a., 1-25

Police believe they've found the body of missing hunter John Slappey.

Chattahoochee Police confirm at about 10p.m Sunday they found a body floating along the Apalachicola river in Liberty County.

An autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning at 9 a.m and they will confirm the identity then.

The 34-year-old Albany, Georgia man was duck hunting with his brother on December 20th when strong currents carried him through the gates of the Jim Woodruff Dam.

We will continue to bring you more information as it becomes available.
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Wednesday is the last official search for the missing duck hunter John Slappey.

Slappey went through the spillway of the dam on Lake Seminole more than two weeks ago while he was duck hunting with his brother.

Search and rescue teams from surrounding counties along with the Chattahoochee Police Department have been out on the Apalachicola River searching for the body.

The cold temperatures and rough river conditions have made the search more difficult.

Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen says his agency will do random searches from here on out but volunteer rescue teams may still do searches daily.


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