After a three-day search, rescuers recovered the body of a 23-year-old Fort Benning soldier who went missing Monday afternoon in the Chattahoochee River.
Officials said the body of Pvt. 1st Class Michael Ferreira was found approximately 5 miles away within the 13th Street Bridge and 3 miles south of the Bulldog Bait and Tackle.
He was pronounced dead of an apparent drowning at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab will determine if an autopsy is needed.
Officials said Ferreira was enjoying some fun at the river with a group of soldiers before going into the water near the 13th Street Bridge around 5:55 p.m. Monday.
“Unfortunately not knowing this river and not having on a life preserver, he was taken under by the current,” Bryan said.
Battalion Chief Keith Watson said rescuers located the soldier’s body with help from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ helicopters and boats with sonar.
“We’ve had a Corps of Engineers holding the water for the last couple days,” Watson said Tuesday morning. “They couldn’t hold it today, because there has been so much rain up north. We figured by now that he might show up down river.”
Watson stressed the importance of wearing a life preserver.
“I’ve been in this department for 35 years, and I’ve never pulled nobody out of the river deceased with life jacket,” the battalion chief said.
This incident comes after rescuers pulled three people from the Chattahoochee River and another from the dam near Lake Oliver in June.
Thomas Odom, 25, of Warner Robins, Ga., was found dead June 8 near the Bulldog Bait and Tackle on Victory Drive. Authorities said it appears as if he drowned while snorkeling in the Chattahoochee River the day before.
First responders saved 32-year-old Darren Pate, who was pulled from the Chattahoochee River near the 13th Street Bridge on June 16. He was arrested on the scene and charged with disorderly while intoxicated and not having a life vest.
Two days later, 52-year-old Manold Solis-Perez was found dead south of the dam near Lake Oliver after authorities spent about two hours searching for him in the water. He was located just below the Water Works resource center.
Staff writers Ben Wright and Larry Gierer contributed to this report.