BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The search for a missing swimmer in the Cooper River is now a recovery effort, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities first received a call about three juveniles, all under the age of 18, who jumped off the train trestle into the river near Strawberry Chapel Road on Wednesday.
Officials say crews were able to locate and rescue two of the swimmers, but a third was missing.
Authorities continued searching the area for hours until having to suspend efforts around 8:30 p.m.
Several agencies, including a Coast Guard helicopter, began to search for the missing swimmer early Thursday morning. However, Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said the search has turned into a recovery effort.
“At this point it’s a recovery for us, unfortunately,” said Sheriff Lewis. “We’ve made every effort to successfully have a rescue, but because of the timeframe that we’re in now, that’s why we’ve moved to recovery.”
Sheriff Lewis said they are trying to do everything they can for the family, who have also been on scene as efforts continue.
“We have 12 total divers from DNR, the sheriff’s office marine patrol and dive team, and Pimlico Fire Department – we are doing everything we can to locate the young man and we have brought every available asset from the sheriff’s office,” he said of the mission.
Sheriff Lewis said the weather has changed dramatically since Wednesday and the water is moving at a faster pace.
Dive teams say there is a lot of debris in the water near the area where the swimmer jumped into the water. “So that is very challenging for them and their having to move divers in and out at a rapid pace to try to keep up,” he said.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is also using a plane to help in the search.
Sheriff Lewis said the agencies will continue searching for the juvenile until they have to call it off for safety reasons.
The identity nor ages of the juveniles have been released at this time.