The body of Steve Ellis McPherson, 54, of Tunica, Miss., who was reported missing on the Spring River around 9 p.m. Saturday, July 18, was located approximately 100 yards north of the Camp Kierl Bridge in Hardy around 3 p.m. Monday, July 20.
Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose said he was contacted for mutual aid July 18 by Gary Gilliland, Nine Mile Ridge fire chief, to assist with the search mission.
Rose said they had two boats in the water searching from 9 p.m. Saturday until the search was called off around 12:20 a.m. Saturday. He said they searched both the water and the banks in an area of the river near Spring River Valley Campground (Old Camp Kierl) where the man was camping.
Sunday, the search resumed with a cadaver dog from Little Rock, and a team of search and rescue dogs from Jonesboro and Lynn searching alongside the boats in nearly a half mile stretch upriver from the old Kamp Kierl bridge. Teams also drug the river and used scuba divers in an attempt to locate the missing man.
Rose said that at the time of the disappearance, the victim was in a raft with five other occupants, all of whom had been drinking and therefore none of their stories matched regarding the location the victim was last seen.
Monday, both cadaver dogs and search dogs who work on the scent principle and came back to search alongside the other volunteers and scuba divers. At approximately 3 p.m. a helicopter spotted the body floating just north of the bridge at nearly the same time the cadaver dogs entered the water. Rose said a group of rafters had just passed the area and had not seen the body. Because McPherson was last seen wading in the river and the death was unattended, the body will be sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.