UPDATE: Crane moving driftwood to help in recovery of worker who fell into river Tuesday morning

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The recovery effort continues today in the search for Donny Mitchell, 50, who fell into the Mississippi River while working at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Mitchell was trying to make his way from a barge he was on to a walkway when he fell into the river from a ladder.

Witnesses worked frantically to try to save him, throwing him a life preserver ring, then trying to reach him with a drag hook, but could not get to Mitchell, said Natchez Fire Chief Robert Arrington.

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Mitchell went into the river at the Buzzi Unicem USA, a cement company with a terminal on the river at 60 L.E. Berry Road, Natchez.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said the recovery effort began at first light this morning. It was halted on Tuesday just after dark on Tuesday because of lack of visibility.

Personnel from the Adams County Search and Rescue, along with the Natchez Fire Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office and Adams County Emergency Management, as well as Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries are at the scene searching today.

Chops Wrecker Service brought in a crane to help move driftwood from the river in the area where Berry went into the water, the sheriff said.

“It is unfortunate what happened, but just so the public would know, once you are on the recovery side, it could take days or a week or longer to find Mr. Mitchell because of how unforgiving the mighty Mississippi River is,” Patten said. “We appreciate Mr. Mitchell’s friends and family giving us and OSHA the chance to properly investigate and giving all of the first responders on the scene the room to search properly. Everyone down here is up to the challenge.”