Former Dalkeith fire chief presumed drowned

A 76-year-old Dalkeith man is presumed drowned in the Apalachicola River, after the search-and-rescue operation that began Monday afternoon has been turned into a recovery operation.

Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said Tuesday that members of his department, along with units from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, and the Southwest Panhandle Search and Rescue K-9 Team continued the search all day an area near Battle Bend for William “Bill” Davis, Jr.,

“We have a large area on the river we’re covering with boats and sonar,” he said. “We’ll all have to start dragging that area as well, and we’re dealing with very deep water. We’ll get out later in the day.”

Harrison said the epicenter of the search is about one mile north of where the Chipola River comes together with the Apalachicola, on the south end near Dalkeith.

The sheriff said the office received the call around 4:25 p.m. CT Monday, after the man was seen jumping from his houseboat into the river to retrieve a boat that had become untied and was drifting away. He said the witness observed the man was able to reach the boat but was unable to pull himself inside of it.

Davis' boat was located by a citizen that heard the call for help a short time later. Because the sheriff had the help of a boat not far from the site, rescue was on the scene within five minutes. Law enforcement, along with search and rescue volunteers, staged at Listers Landing and started searching for Davis.

Harrison said rising waters and swift current prevent sending in a FWC dive team, or one from neighboring departments. “It’s too dangerous for divers until we get a pinpoint location,” he said.

"Davis is a beloved member of the community and served as the fire chief for the Dalkeith Volunteer Fire Department. Our hearts ache for the Davis family,” said Harrison, “Mr. Bill was known by many in our community and was a tireless servant.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 227-1115.

This article originally appeared on The Star: Former Dalkeith fire chief presumed drowned

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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