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Wilkinson County resident missing for more than a week

From the Woodville Republican

WOODVILLE — A Wilkinson County resident who lived on the banks of Foster’s Lake has been missing for more than a week and is presumed drowned, officials and friends have reported.

Wesley Berry, 66, of Woodville, who lived alone at his home located at “The Rocks” in western Wilkinson County, was last seen when he bought food and other items at Treppendahl’s Super Foods in Woodville on Tuesday afternoon, June 25.

“He lived at The Rocks, and with the high floodwater from the Mississippi River, he was the only one who chose to remain there,” Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Lt. Gary Crum said.

A Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association policy requires electricity to be cut off to flooded areas of Wilkinson County when the river exceeds a certain level.

Berry’s camp at The Rocks had no electricity. He has a diesel-powered generator, which provided him with electrical service once the service was cut to his home.

Officials say that in order for Berry to keep his generators running, he would have to load a large aluminum fuel tank into his boat to have it refilled with diesel.

Berry was on one of his re-fueling trips where he also bought necessary items for his home. Officials assume Berry was in his boat returning to his camp with those items when he went missing.

“We don’t know what happened to him,” Crum said. “No one knew that he was missing until Sunday, June 30, and a search was begun of the Foster’s Lake area.”

“Searchers located the portable fuel tank, a padded seat and several grocery items hung up in the limbs of a cypress tree,” county officials reported.

“Despite widespread searches by helicopter, the Wildlife and Fisheries, special cadaver dog units and family and friends, we have not been able to locate the body nor his aluminum boat,” Crum said.

“We are still in boats and are still looking as of today,” Crum said Monday. “Due to a current in Foster’s Lake resulting from Mississippi River floodwaters, we have widened our search area. We have no idea at this time just what happened.”

Crum said that his department was assisted by the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Department, the West Feliciana Sheriff’s Department helicopter and Warden Darrel Vanoy and a search team from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and all other volunteers.

“My department has flown drones all over the search area looking for any clues,” Crum said. “The search for Mr. Berry will continue as long as is reasonably possible.”

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