Search continues for Dalkeith chief, presumed drowned

The grim search continued this week for the body of former Dalkeith fire chief William “Bill” Davis, Jr., presumed drowned in the waters near Battle Bend, in the Apalachicola River.

“We have 10 to 15 boats out every single say, actively searching, with no success,” said Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison said Monday. “We plan to keep on searching and we hope our future efforts will be productive.”

Davis’ wife, Lois, has come by the command post on a regular basis. “She’s been out there on several occasions thanking volunteers,” Harrison said.

She has told law enforcement and emergency medical officials that on Monday afternoon, Jan. 4 Davis, 76, and she had traveled out on the water to their houseboat, moored north of Battle Bend, near the confluence of the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers.

“They had gotten off onto the house boat, they were planning on a few days there when the boat became untied,” she recounted.

Harrison said Davis removed extra clothing and dove into the water to retrieve the boat. “He thought he could swim out there,” the sheriff.

Once he got to the boat, Davis had planned to get in on the side, near where the engine is trimmed up, that can be used as a step.

“He never was able to pull himself into it,” said Harrison. “His wife was watching him the whole time, not knowing what to do.”

The sheriff said the Davises have two sons in the area, and a daughter who lives in Washington state.

“They have a large family, brothers and sisters, who have all been there, nieces and nephews,” said Harrison. “We’re trying to give the family closure. We hope to do that.”

He said because the waters are cold, a body usually doesn’t surface for at least seven to 10 days, and it could be as long as 20 to 25 days.

Harrison said the recovery team, including units from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, and the Southwest Panhandle Search and Rescue K-9 Team has used cadaver dogs to scour the shoreline, as well as side scan sonar.

Davis, a former volunteer fire chief in Dalkeith, took an active role in maintaining public safety and security.

“Any other time, he would be actively participating in a search like this,” Harrison said.

This article originally appeared on The Star: Search continues for Dalkeith 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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