Authorities are working to determine whether a body recovered Tuesday night from the backwaters of Guntersville Lake is that of a missing 18-year-old Geraldine, Alabama, man who vanished in a Jackson County creek on Feb. 22.
The body was found by a four anglers on South Sauty Creek, a few miles upstream from where the creek joins the Tennessee River at Guntersville Lake, and is thought to be Koy Spears, officials said. But the identity has not been confirmed.
Spears was riding in a Jeep Cherokee with two others when the vehicle was swept off a creek crossing in Buck's Pocket State Park near the Jackson-Marshal-Etowah county line. Spears was not seen again.
The other two people in the Jeep that night — 22-year-old Sara Lucille Mooneyham, of Crossville, Alabama, and 21-year-old Jaxon Cole Jones, of Dawson, Alabama — were found a couple of hours later clinging to a tree downstream, authorities said.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman Capt. Gary Buchanan said Wednesday morning in a statement that fishermen spotted the body near the Morgan Cove boat ramp; Marine Patrol troopers responding to the scene confirmed the discovery.
"The Department of Forensic Science took the body back to its Huntsville lab last night for positive identification and autopsy," Buchanan said. "At this time, it's unknown how long that process will take."
Buchanan added that investigators from both ALEA Marine Patrol and Highway Patrol will continue their investigation into the incident.
Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen said Wednesday said the body was found about a mile and a half downstream from where the Jeep was swept into the creek, he said.
Ongoing rain and high water levels hampered search operations but crews combed the shoreline and looked for the missing man and Jeep from the air as weather permitted. Agencies involved in search efforts over past weeks include crews from Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Jackson counties as well as state agencies, officials noted.