UPDATE: Drowning victims identified, divers will resume search today for boy

Published 7:41 am Monday, August 29, 2022

MERRYVILLE, Louisiana — The search continues today for the fourth and youngest victim of this weekend’s tragic drowning in the Sabine River, near Mouth of Creek Road in Merryville.

On Sunday, Beauregard Parish Sheriff Mark Herford identified the three adult victims as Troy M. McCollough of Junction community, Kelly Bailey of Hornbeck, and Austin Scott of DeRidder. Their bodies were recovered Sunday.

Herford said the search will resume today for the fourth victim, a young male juvenile whom Herford declined to identify out of respect for the family.

Herford said it is believed the adults were attempting to save the juvenile who was caught in the river’s current when all four went under.

“These three men tragically lost their lives trying to rescue a young boy. They are heroes and should be remembered that way. My deepest condolences and my prayers are with the families of all those involved,” Herford said.

The incident occurred on Friday just after 8 p.m. when an emergency call was placed to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office. Herford said deputies immediately responded to the Palmer Lake beach and boat launch area where bystanders reported the young boy had been caught in the river’s current, and the three men had attempted to save him.

The Sabine River has become notorious for dangerous swimming conditions over the years with its unpredictable current and levels that are affected by the Toledo Bend dam.

“The problem is that you might be in one spot where the water is low and everything is fine, but then later that same spot will be well under water,” Herford said.

In 2016, a father and his two sons all drowned near the same location.

Herford said that after this most recent tragedy, he intends to place advisories at the site to warn the public of the dangers of swimming in that area.

As the search continues, Herford expressed his appreciation to the public for their concerns, but asked residents to avoid the area until the search has been completed and to not attempt to join the search with their own boats.

“I know that everyone wants to help, and I really appreciate that, but with divers in the water it poses a safety concern,” Herford said.

Since Friday, BPSO has received assistance from numerous surrounding agencies that include the Grant, DeSoto and Natchitoches parish sheriff’s offices, as well as rescue crews from the District 1 and District 4 fire districts, the Alexandria and Pineville fire departments, and the Natchitoches fire district.