Search for missing hunter continues

ALBANY -- Florida investigators said Tuesday they still have not found John Mark Slappey, 34, of Albany, who was washed away while duck hunting along Lake Seminole Sunday afternoon.

Cadaver dogs were used Tuesday afternoon to aid searchers in their efforts to locate Slappey along the Apalachicola River, said Stan Kirkland, regional spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"The Houston County Search and Rescue Team are down here with dogs that are trained to pick up the scent of shedding human skin cells," he said Tuesday. "They (Houston County) called early yesterday morning to offer their services."

Kirkland said assistance from the Dothan, Ala.-based team will greatly aid search efforts.

"It's one more tool you can use at a time like this," he said.

FWC officials said law enforcement agencies worked tirelessly Tuesday searching the 3-mile stretch along the upper Apalachicola River.

"The Chattahoochee landing is not open to the public at this time," said Kirkland. "Law enforcement agencies have been using the landing as main point to regroup and organize."

A number of agencies, search-and-rescue personnel and volunteers has participated in the search for Slappey. They include the FWC, Chattahoochee Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, and Bay County Search and Rescue.

Searchers have combed the area around Lake Seminole and the Apalachicola River for any sign of the Albany native.

"We have recovered some personal items we knew were on him (Slappey)," said Kirkland.

A duck decoy and plastic waders are among the few items that have been found amid the swollen waters.

FWC officials said Tuesday they are confident they will find the body of Slappey.

"It's going to take some time," said Kirkland. "They (searchers) will find his body."

He said that while the swollen waters of Lake Seminole and the strong current through the Apalachicola River may make the search harder, conditions could be worse.

"The water is high, but I've seen it a lot worse than this," Kirkland said.

Witnesses have said Slappey was duck hunting with his half-brother, Andrew Dismuke, 25, around noon Sunday when Slappey was pulled under the Jim Woodruff Dam and disappeared beneath the waters of the Apalachicola River.

His body was not immediately recovered Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.

Family members of Slappey's have announced that a celebration of life will be held in the avid hunter's honor on Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Albany at 1 p.m.