News Releases

Body of missing duck hunter found as search for Altha man begins

News Release

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Media contact: Lt. Scott Runkle or Stan Kirkland, 850-265-3676

A body found in the Apalachicola River Sunday night is that of missing Albany, Ga. hunter John Mark Slappey.

The medical examiner's office in Tallahassee confirmed the identity of the body late Monday.  Slappey, 34, was duck hunting Dec. 20 in a float tube near the Jim Woodruff Dam when a strong current swept him through an open lock and he disappeared beneath the water.

Searchers discovered Slappey's body about 25 miles downriver from the dam as they began to look for Ernest Prevatte, 48, of Altha.  Prevatte and his 35-year-old son-in-law, Robert Lee Bailey Sr., went out on the Apalachicola River Sunday afternoon on a 14-foot aluminum johnboat to check on a houseboat north of Blountstown.

They were several miles above the Highway 20 Bridge when the boat began taking on water, rolled and sank, Bailey told investigators. Neither man wore a life jacket. Bailey floated downstream in the 53-degree water, climbed out at the Highway 20 Bridge and flagged down a motorist at 8:47 p.m.

Sunday night, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers and an FWC helicopter with a powerful search light looked for Prevatte.  They searched again all day Monday.

Those assisting the FWC in the search include Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, Liberty County Search and Rescue, the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office and volunteers.

FWC Facts:
Female alligators rarely exceed 9.5 feet in length, but males can grow much larger, up to 14 feet long and more than 1,000 pounds.

Learn More at AskFWC