Authorities search for woman in Lake Chehaw

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- The disappearance of Fannie Corley, a 77-year-old cancer patient, launched a search of Lake Chehaw Thursday when her car was found on the North Jefferson Street bridge.

Corley's family reported that she was gone from her Baker Street home in Lee County at about 6 a.m., said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals. Her teal 1992 Dodge Dynasty was found parked on the bridge after 10 a.m., he added.

"A family member or a deputy called (the car) in," Rachals said. "There is nothing at this time to indicate a suicide. We assume the worst and hope for the best at times like these."

Assuming the worst led to the launch of a rescue boat by the Albany Fire Department to search the waters under and downstream from the bridge in case Corley had fallen off the bridge. The best could be that a woman who was reported walking south on Jefferson Street that morning from the bridge was Corley, Rachals said.

Standing on the bridge at about 10 a.m., about six family members huddled together, watching as the boat searched the water. They declined to speak to the media.

"The family would like the community's help in finding Fannie Corley," Rachals said. "If anyone sees her walking, please call the Lee County Sheriff's Office or another agency. She has blue eyes and her hair is silver, but she sometimes wears a turban because of chemo."

A further description from emergency dispatch described Corley as a 5-foot, 1-inch, white woman, weighing 135 pounds and wearing pajamas.

At about 11 a.m. the Georgia Department of Natural Resources brought a boat to the lake to aid in the search. Deputies from the Mitchell County Sheriff's Office used a bloodhound to search the immediate land area of the lake.

Although Corley is a Lee County resident, the spot where the bridge crosses Lake Chehaw is in Dougherty County jurisdiction. County police assumed traffic control duty while the lake search went on past 3:45 p.m.

Clouds and rain could complicate the search, officials said.

"We'll continue until the weather gets too ugly," Albany-Dougherty Search and Rescue Commander Chuck Mitchell said. "We are using sonar. The water is too cold for divers; they couldn't stay down longer than 10 minutes."

Neighbors and passersby stopped to look at the rescue efforts.

"I drove by at about 8:30 (a.m.)," Doc Powellck, 75, said. "I saw the car. The lights weren't on. It is just so sad, and at this time of year, too. So sad for any family."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (229) 759-6012; Dougherty County Police Department at (229) 430-6600; or Albany Police Department at (229) 431-2132.