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River search continues into night
Rescue squads unable to find missing GE employee from Neel

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

The search continued Monday night for a man missing on the Tennessee River.

Rescue workers using helicopters, boats and tracking dogs to search in and along the river had not found Jeffery Todd Palmer, 43, of Neel.

Palmer, a General Electric employee, disappeared after using the company's boat launch to go out on the river to hunt, search for arrowheads and camp.

Palmer has not been seen since 11 a.m. Friday, said William "Ski" Szczepanski, the Morgan County rescue squad's communications captain.

On Sunday, searchers found Palmer's canoe and some personal items in shallow river waters.

Szczepanski said he didn't believe search parties recovered any more of Palmer's personal belongings Monday.

"The first day we had such an extensive search, we were searching from Cave Springs Road to the U.S. 31 (Hudson Memorial) Bridge," Szczepanski said. "Some areas we may concentrate on more than others, but we still have a pretty extensive search area."

Crews took turns combing the area Monday.

"We've seen footprints all over the place," Szczepanski said.

Searchers were trying to match footprints in the sand to those Palmer had left near his vehicle at the plant, he said.

Six search teams remained on the river at 9 p.m., and it appeared the search might continue throughout the night.

"Right now there is no time that we've set to stop searching," Szczepanski said.

Szczepanski said conditions on the river were cold and getting colder. He said the water temperature was about 55 degrees.

Rescue squad Lt. Danny Kelso said numerous agencies were involved in the search effort, including at least six other rescue squads, three dog teams, state troopers, Limestone County Sheriff's Department, Alabama Marine Police, Morgan County Emergency Management Agency, Decatur police, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

"This afternoon I've already talked with several other agencies that will be here tomorrow," Kelso said. "They're going to come out and we're going to brief them in the morning."

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