CHESTER, Va. (WRIC) — Recovery efforts for a man in his 70s who fell off a boat while fishing Friday morning at Dutch Gap are still underway.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has taken over the investigation. Authorities will be searching until sunset and if the man is not found then the search will resume Saturday at 9 a.m.
Chesterfield authorities responded to the call around 8:40 a.m. According to Paige Pearson with DWR, the man was out on a boat fishing when he fell in the water.
Pearson said there was only one other person on the boat with the man in his 70s. “He saw him for just a split second when he turned around and looked and by the time he turned the boat around to go back to get him, he didn’t see him,” Pearson said.
Divers are using sonar technology to locate big objects in the murky James river. The divers were decontaminated in between trips out of an abundance of caution after the recent sewage spill, according to Captain Joe Harvey with Chesterfield Fire. He said fire officials did not have evidence that the water is unsafe to be in. On Thursday, VDH said the water is OK to swim in again. “We just wanted to make sure our folks are taken care of,” Harvey said.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck mission. A coast guard chopper from Elizabeth City joined a cluster of first responders from several nearby agencies in the search.
“The more units that we can get in that area that have sonar, it will give us the best chance,” Harvey said.
Pearson said authorities did recover the fisherman’s life jacket during the search but they’re unsure if he was wearing it properly or at all.
“We’re just not sure at this point how and why he went over and how and why he went under,” Pearson said.
After more than two hours searching, the initial rescue became a recovery mission. “Our condolences go out to the family and friends, this is also a tragic situation,” Pearson said.
The man’s family was on scene for several hours Friday. They did not want to speak with reporters.
If the fisherman is not found by sunset Friday, the search will continue Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
Details are limited at this time. Stay with 8News for updates.