Searchers find body of missing boater

  • A Georgia Department of Natural Resources helicopter flies above Lake Hartwell Thursday morning in search of a missing 69-year-old Illinois man who rented a boat from Hartwell Marina Wednesday that was later found unoccupied.
    A Georgia Department of Natural Resources helicopter flies above Lake Hartwell Thursday morning in search of a missing 69-year-old Illinois man who rented a boat from Hartwell Marina Wednesday that was later found unoccupied.
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David Dean
Body

The body of a boater missing on Lake Hartwell since Wednesday was found Friday in the area around Sadlers Creek State Park in South Carolina. 

Searchers located the body of David Dean, 69, in the water around 10:30 a.m. Friday near the South Carolina park, said Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland. The body will be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta for an autopsy. Cleveland said there were no obvious signs of trauma or injury when the body was recovered.

Dean, who was from Illinois, reportedly rented a pontoon boat from Hartwell Marina on Wednesday. The boat was later found at around 3 p.m., unmanned, in an area near the Carters Ferry Boat Ramp in the Reed Creek community. The pontoon boat was anchored, but the anchor was dragging, and the outboard motor was trimmed up. The boat was in about 27 feet of water, Cleveland said.

Authorities from several area agencies deployed sonar and a helicopter in their search of the area and dive teams were ready when needed. 

Cleveland said the boat was processed and it was determined it was not a crime scene. 

“There was absolutely nothing on the boat to indicate a crime had occurred,” Cleveland said. 

Dean had no apparent ties to the area, Cleveland said, and appeared to be passing through when he rented a boat from Hartwell Marina.

Cleveland said the current of the main river channel in the lake was strong Wednesday, so searchers casted a wide net, especially considering searchers did not know how far the boat may have drifted while the anchor was not set. 

The Hart County Sheriff's Office, Hart County Fire Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and agencies from other counties in the area were all participating in the search Thursday morning. 

Cleveland said he was very appreciative of the help from all agencies involved.