JESUP — The body of a Wayne County man reported missing Sunday was pulled from the Altamaha River about 10:30 Monday morning, said Wayne County Sheriff John Carter.
The sheriff identified the body as that of Gary Lewis, who was in his mid-60s.
Lewis ran a dental practice in Jesup, Carter said.
“This is a tragedy. He was a dentist here in Jesup and had experienced some health problems,” said Carter. “It’s always more poignant when something like this occurs close to a major holiday.”
Carter said no foul play is suspected. He said the body has been sent to a state lab for an autopsy.
At about 10:30 Sunday morning, deputies and Department of Natural Resources officials were called to begin the search for the missing Lewis, who put in at Jaycee Landing on the Altamaha, Carter said, though he had trouble doing so.
Carter said officials watched a video that showed Lewis attempting to recover his boat which had drifted away and he apparently slipped in the water.
“Later that afternoon, we found the boat right behind another pontoon boat. It appeared to just be docked there, but it was his boat,” said Carter. “Rescue divers and of course DNR were already looking for them as well as our rescue team, up and down the river. We were also searching at Long County.”
Carter said divers normally do not enter the water after dark but they were diving Sunday evening, searching for Lewis.
The body was found the following morning.
“They stayed as long as they could,” Carter said, but added that fatigue sets in in cold weather and that hypothermia plays a part in it.
“We’re glad we got some closure,” Carter said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, especially as they deal with this tragedy near the holidays.”