County man missing since last weekend

Published 7:22 pm Thursday, December 21, 2006

A local man is still missing in spite of multiple departments seeking his whereabouts after he left Friday to go on an outdoors trip, the worst is suspected.

Pearl River County resident Allen Breland, 49, was last seen Friday before he left from a Walkiah Bluff location in his boat. So far all that has been recovered are some items that were believed to have been with Breland in his boat, said Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division Region Capt. Len Yokum.

Tom MacKenzie with Federal Wildlife and Fisheries said the items found, a gas tank, seat and life jacket, all resemble items that were reportedly in Breland’s boat.

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Yokum said his department was notified about Breland on Monday morning and the search for his whereabouts has been ongoing since. The discovered items believed to have been in his boat were found near a high rapid diversion project on the Pearl River in the Walkiah Bluff area, Yokum said.

“When it rolls over that seal, it creates white water rapids,” Yokum said.

The possibility that Breland’s boat could have gone under while attempting to make it over the rapids has not been ruled out, Yokum said.

If a person or water craft is caught in those rapids the rapids could pull and hold the person and craft under water for an extended period of time, Yokum said. A previous incident prevented the body of one victim from being recovered for five to six months, he said.

Yokum said Breland was in a 14 foot fiberglass skiff that had no floatation installed, meaning if the boat sank it will stay that way.

Currently the Louisiana, Mississippi and Federal Wildlife and Fisheries along with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Department are assisting in the search for Breland. About two men from the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries was conducting the search Wednesday, Yokum said.

Dredging in the area is difficult since there are many snags and a collection of debris also lay at the bottom, Breland said. Using divers to search the bottom of the Pearl River near where Breland’s boat is suspected to have gone under is risky, MacKenzie said.

“You can’t send divers in there, it’s too dangerous,” MacKenzie said.

Agents from those departments have been on scene every day looking for clues to the whereabouts of Breland.

“You always want to hope for the best, but right now the odds don’t look that good,” Yokum said. “We’re going to continue to search and hopefully find this gentleman.”

Cadaver dogs have scoured the area and found nothing so far, Yokum said. If a body was decomposing in a body of water the dogs could pick up the scent, albeit the scent would be picked up farther down stream than where the body is actually located due to the currents, Yokum said.

Additional information from the Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Department was not available at this time.