FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The body of a 63-year-old man who went missing while boating on the Pee Dee River was recovered, and the autopsy results show the man drowned.
The Department of Natural Resources led the search for John Williams who went missing somewhere between Bluff Landing and one mile upstream at about 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, said Lieutenant Joe Ard with DNR.
Williams was camping with his family, a Thanksgiving tradition. After a day out on the water, his son-in-law realized one of the boats was running low on gas. Williams offered to follow him to the landing, to make sure he didn't run out of gas.
"When my husband got back to the landing, my daddy wasn't behind him. He figured he turned around and went back to the campsite," said Charlotte Parnell, Williams' daughter.
Williams wasn't at the campsite. The men decided to get in their boats and search the water.
"They both got in their separate boats and went looking for him. They found his boat way down the river. It was still on, the lights were still on, the spotlight was floating beside the boat," said Parnell.
She added, "They kept going, calling out his name. They never found him. They found his hat floating down the river, around a couple curves, that's when they called 911."
DNR officers were searching the water with boats since, Lt. Ard said, and an aircraft was brought in to assist in the search.
"It can be easier from the plane to see down into the water," explained Lt. Ard.
Williams' body was found on Dec. 9, according to Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken.
It was found on the Pee Dee River around 4:30 p.m. The body was sent to MUSC for an autopsy. On Wednesday, December 11, Florence County Coroner stated the autopsy showed the cause of death to be drowning. The manner of death was classified as an accident.