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

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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