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Search for swimmer missing in Congaree River to continue Tuesday

A helicopter flies over the Congaree River between the Gervais and Blossom street bridges on Sunday while searching for a swimmer who went missing in the river.
A helicopter flies over the Congaree River between the Gervais and Blossom street bridges on Sunday while searching for a swimmer who went missing in the river. tkulmala@thestate.com

Crews have not located the swimmer who went missing in the Congaree River on Sunday, but officials say officers will stay on the water until a recovery is made.

Divers with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources were searching the waters of the Congaree throughout the day Monday, according to Capt. Robert McCullough, a DNR spokesman. The divers were taken out of the water once it got dark.

Search efforts are still focused between the Gervais Street and Blossom Street bridges, which McCullough said is the equivalent of about two football fields.

“That’s a lot when you’re underwater,” he said.

The male swimmer, who has not been identified, went missing while he was trying to swim across the river with three other people around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, officials have said.

None of the swimmers were wearing life jackets.

All four swimmers were overcome by the strong current about halfway across the river near the Gervais Street bridge, fire officials have said. One of them swam to some nearby rocks, and a bystander on the shore swam to the middle of the river to help two of the swimmers. The fourth swimmer has not been seen since.

McCullough said DNR will have officers in the area during the nighttime hours. Divers are expected to go back into the water Tuesday.

“There'll be somebody around until we make a recovery,” he said.

Helicopters from the Sheriff’s Department and the State Law Enforcement Division are helping in the aerial search, McCullough said.

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