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Bad weather Tuesday could hamper search for swimmer missing in Congaree River

Rescue workers search the waters of the Congaree River on Sunday after a man went missing while trying to swim across the river with three other people.
Rescue workers search the waters of the Congaree River on Sunday after a man went missing while trying to swim across the river with three other people. tkulmala@thestate.com

Crews searching for the swimmer who went missing in the Congaree River are keeping an eye on the weather, which could hamper their search efforts Tuesday.

Forecasters are calling for rain throughout the day Tuesday, with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon.

Boats were in the river Tuesday morning, but it’s unclear if divers will go into the water, according to Capt. Robert McCullough of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The search for the male swimmer, who went missing Sunday while trying to swim across the river with three other people near the Gervais Street bridge, has included boats, divers and helicopters.

“It hampers putting aircraft up,” McCullough said of bad weather. “It can change the water flow. It could make it very dangerous to be in the water for the divers.”

The search has become a recovery effort.

In the primary search area between the Gervais and Blossom street bridges, the river gets as deep as 20 feet, McCullough said. Rocks, holes and hydraulics can complicate an underwater search and increase the danger for divers, and rainfall only compounds those issues, he said.

“There’s a ton of stuff that goes on underwater,” he said.

Officials have said the four divers were swimming across the river around 11:30 a.m. Sunday when they were overcome by the current. One swimmer made it to some rocks and two others were rescued by a person who swam halfway across the river to help them. The fourth swimmer has not been seen since.

Check back for updates.

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