Boater’s body found in Escatawpa River

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jackson County Sheriff’s Flotilla members found the body of Oliver Jones Sunday in the Escatawpa River, about a half-mile from where he had tied his fishing boat last week.

Jones, 64, has been missing since Tuesday night. Jones’ wife, Mary, contacted the sheriff late Tuesday after her husband did not return from a fishing trip on the Escatawpa River and Big Black Creek.

Jones’ boat was found that night near where Big Black Creek empties into the Escatawpa.

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An autopsy is planned to determine if Jones, who was in poor health, drowned or died as a result of medical problems, said Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus.

Mary Jones said her husband had many health issues, especially since Hurricane Katrina, when the couple relocated from their home in Pascagoula to a FEMA trailer in Gautier. He had diabetes, major heart issues and needed dialysis, oxygen and other medications, she said.

Sheriff’s Flotilla Vice Commander Shawn Easterling said an estimated 50 to 100 people were involved in the search for Jones. The search included boats, helicopters, underwater cameras, drags, search and rescue dogs, sonar and divers.

Easterling said authorities believe Jones drowned and floated down river.