Search ends for Chipola River drowning victim

This report has been updated from an earlier version to include information from the FWC.

The body of Johnny Mike Ludlam, was recovered from the Chipola River Sunday evening following more than 24 hours of search and rescue efforts.

An investigation led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was launched Saturday afternoon after Ludlam, who was from Gulf County, fell from his fishing boat and did not resurface.

“Johnny Mike Ludlam was fishing in Douglas Slough off the Apalachicola River on May 28 when he fell into the water.  On May 29 at 8:35 p.m., the subject was recovered at the scene.  His family has been notified,” the FWC said in a release.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time. “

Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison, who participated in search and rescue efforts, estimated that there about 75 people aiding in the search efforts, between law enforcement, search and rescure personnel and volunteers.

“I’m thankful that the family can get some closure now,” Harrison said.

The drowning occured about three to four miles (by boat) from Lister’s Landing, near Dalkeith. Search and rescue efforts were greatly slowed by the area’s low visibility.

“It’s just very, very murky water, and there’s almost zero visibility,” Harrison said on Saturday afternoon, before the body was recovered. “But we’re using all of our normal techniques to try to recover him.”

According to Gulf County Emergency Management Director Matt Herring, search and resuce teams were able to locate what they thought to be the man’s body at about 1 p.m. Sunday. 

From that point, crews worked to recover him.

This report will be updated as more information becomes available.

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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