Family of hunters lost on Mississippi River ask for prayers as weather threatens recovery efforts

Published 11:27 am Thursday, December 31, 2020

As severe weather threatened Warren County, state and local authorities resumed their search of the Mississippi River for two duck hunters missing since Dec. 3.

While severe weather was not expected until Thursday night, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Thursday morning that light rain and fog was forcing rescuers to keep a close eye on conditions.

“I cannot allow vessels to be on the water on a recovery mission in inclement weather because of the safety factor,” Pace said, adding he did not know how long the boats would be able to remain on the water because of the weather. “I hope we will be able to make a recovery soon to bring some relief to these families.”

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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.

As the search for the young men prepared to enter its fifth week, Hughes’ father, Barry Hughes, wrote a Facebook post Dec. 28 asking people to pray for his son and the mothers of the two hunters.

“As much as Gunner’s father and myself hurt over the loss of our sons, it doesn’t compare to what both of their mothers feel,” he wrote. “So I ask that a special prayer be said for them today.

“I know that I speak for all when I say we are thankful that God chose us to be their parents. Our prayers are that our loss will inspire boaters to practice boater safety to wear life preservers at all times, and that through this someone else’s life may be saved,” Hughes wrote.