The body of a missing 4-year-old boy was recovered Friday morning in the Chattahoochee River after a nine-day intensive search by rescue workers from multiple agencies across the Southeast, authorities have confirmed.
Beau Rabon was discovered at 8:34 a.m., five days after his 27-year-old father, James Rabon, was pulled from the river on Easter Sunday, Battalion Chief Bryan Watson said during a 10 a.m. news conference.
“We never lost our resolve. These guys never backed up,” he said. “We wouldn’t quit. We gave our word to the family that we would find this kid. ... We gave the family closure.”
The two were fishing from the bank about 250 yards south of Oliver Dam on March 28, when the boy fell into the swift water and his father went in to rescue him, witnesses told authorities.
Neither was wearing a life jacket, according to Columbus Fire & EMS.
The search began immediately after the two were reported missing in the water and continued dawn to dusk until Friday morning.
New camera equipment and two divers from the Department of Natural Resources in Columbia, S.C., arrived in Columbus before 11 a.m. Thursday to search what authorities called 300 to 400 acres of surface water on Bibb Pond.
Watson said the equipment played a big role in helping to locate Beau.
Eight divers from the Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services joined the new divers Thursday in four boats along with DNR helicopter to search the area where the boy was last seen.
“They are in the water with this new camera, new technology to us,” Watson said. “Reporting from divers, they are getting real good images in the channel. That is a place we have not been able to see because of the depth.”
Capt. Daniel Hord, a 14-year veteran with the fire department and a diver for two years, said divers were rotated to keep them fresh and prevent fatigue.
“This is the longest dive operation I have been on,” he said. “We are here for the family and our hearts go out to them. I think all of us are fathers, brothers. That toll is going to be on anyone. That’s why we do what we do. We are here to serve this city.”
Georgia DNR, Georgia Power and the Corps of Engineers assisted in the search.
A gofundme account has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/5c4k18g to help the family.
Staff Writer Ben Wright contributed to this report.