Divers comb river for missing woman

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Rescue and recovery divers braved cold waters, a biting wind and an unyielding current late Monday, scouring the Flint River near Lake Chehaw for a Lee County woman who has been missing since Christmas Eve.

Friends and family of 77-year-old Fannie Corley braved the dropping temperatures to watch search and rescue teams attempt to find the missing woman.

Corley disappeared early Thursday morning. Investigators believe she was last seen in the area near the bridge at Lake Chehaw on Old Leesburg Road.

Tracy Sargent, a canine search and rescue specialist from Cedartown, brought her trained cadaver detection dog, Cinco, to aid in the search Monday morning.

"It's important to note that we're just another tool being used to help this family find their loved one," she said as Cinco checked the banks of Lake Chehaw.

Around 3 p.m., Cinco alerted Sargent of a possible contact near the Philema Road bridge, which prompted rescue officials to call in a dive team.

A sonar-capable boat was used to mark the possible contacts, which were then identified for divers with bright orange neon floats attached to weighted anchors.

After the initial check by the divers, however, the markers were collected without finding a body, said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell, who was at the Cox Landing during the operation.

Additional divers and search teams continued to search the area into Monday afternoon, but suspended recovery efforts at sunset and when the current became too strong for divers to safely remain in the water, Carswell said.

Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals said that it was important to try to bring the case to a conclusion as soon as possible.

"We, the sheriff's office, the Dougherty County police and fire department are working together and using each other's resources to bring this to a resolution for this family," Rachals said.

Searchers will pick up the effort today, Carswell said, and will continue to focus on the Philema Bridge area.