Sheriff vows to keep searching Mississippi River for missing hunters, on Christmas if necessary

Published 9:33 pm Sunday, December 20, 2020

If needed, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said the search for two missing duck hunters will continue on Christmas Day.

“I’ll be out and I’ve had two deputies volunteer to help,” Pace said Sunday as the search for the missing hunters is in its third week. Pace said he plans to break the search into shifts so searchers won’t have to spend the entire holiday on the water. It is his hope, though, that search will provide results and answers to the families long before Christmas.

“We hope we won’t still be searching by then,” he said.

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The sheriff said Sunday afternoon two boats, one from the sheriff’s office and one from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks put in at LeTourneau Landing Sunday morning and searched as far south as the Warren/Claiborne County line near Middle Ground Island.

“We will continue searching until dark and be back on the water tomorrow,” he said.

The search for Zeb Hughes, 21, from Wesson, and 16-year-old Gunner Palmer of Brookhaven, began late Dec. 3 after the two did not return from a planned hunting trip and were reported missing by their families.

Hughes and Palmer put out on the river from LeTourneau Landing that morning. Their truck and trailer were still at the landing when rescuers first arrived.

Since then, boats with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Agents, Madison Parish, La., Sheriff’s Office and volunteers have searched the river scanning the surface and using sonar to search the river bottom in an effort to find the young men.

The search at times has been augmented by aircraft and drones and land searches and the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a notice to mariners asking commercial vessels on the river to watch for the pair.