Missing Berrien Co. boater found

Updated: Jun. 24, 2019 at 6:57 PM EDT
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FOLKSTON, Ga. (WALB) - A missing boater from Berrien County was found after more than a day-long search, according to officials.

Sonny Lewis was found deceased Monday morning on the Satilla River, according to Sgt. Damon Winters with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

BREAKING: Sending prayers for the family of Sonny Lewis of Berrien County who's been found deceased after going missing...

Posted by Damon Arnold TV on Monday, June 24, 2019

One boater was traveling fast and struck the boat Lewis was on, which caused him to fall out of the boat, officials said.

The body was found upstream of where the incident happened, Winters said.

The body will be sent for an autopsy Tuesday.

The search for Lewis lasted all day Sunday, but ended after 8:30 p.m. because of the weather.

The search resumed at 7 a.m. Monday at Burnt Fort Landing off Highway 252, officials said.

Both boats were recovered and are under investigation.

“I wish like hell it could’ve been me, I just wish like hell that it could’ve been me,” Michael Baldree said.

Blistering thoughts that fill Baldree’s mind.

Baldree survived the boat crash that claimed the life of Lewis, his best friend.

Baldree recalled the moments just before the crash.

“I turned around and Sonny had my son, one arm in the air, throwing him to the front of the boat right before we got hit. He saved my son’s life,” Baldree said.

Lewis, Baldree and his 6-year-old son are from Berrien County.

They were participating in catfish tournament, when they pulled onto the river bank for a short break.

Baldree said in the blink of an eye, a boat came around the corner, driving at a high speed.

“Them boys turned the curve and they hit us wide open and jumped us, jumped the entire boat,” Baldree said.

Divers and helicopters were called in to assist in the search.

“This is tidewater here in the river, so the river will flow down toward the ocean, but then when the tide comes in, it turns it and it turns back, with the tide coming in, he floated with that tide back up toward Burnt Fort,” Winters said.

Baldree said he’s still just trying to make sense of it all.

“Man, I’m hurt, I’m dying inside," Baldree said. “This is one of those things you’ll never get over.”

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