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Ochlocknee River Tragedy: James Morgan, 56, of Havana, drowns

The body of James Donald “Jim” Morgan, 56, of Havana, was found late Friday morning, June 22, in the Ochlochoknee River, about 75 yards south of the Iron Bridge Landing boat ramp near the Gadsden County/Leon County line.

Morgan drowned Wednesday evening, June 20, while swimming in the river with friends near the boat ramp. Morgan got caught up in a strong current and “got in trouble,”said Ulysses Jenkins, acting Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office public information officer for this case.

The Ochlockonee River, though mostly known for being quite docile, can often experience swift currents and high water levels during and after periods of heavy rain.

Jenkins said the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office police report indicated that Morgan and his friends had been drinking at the boat ramp that evening.

The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office was the lead agency for the investigation since the boat ramp is considered in Gadsden County, though the border of Gadsden and Leon County flows through the river itself.

Search and rescue teams from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office  dive team and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dive team were called in on the Wednesday evening and continued searching until Morgan’s body was found on the Friday morning by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer.

The dive teams used sonar technology to better visualize what lay beneath the surface of the notoriously murky water.

This specialized sonar is how Morgan’s body was eventually found. The search for Morgan also included helicopters and cadaver dogs, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said that the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office was grateful for the mutual aid of the area’s other agencies.

“They lent their assets to us to help us in this search to help bring closure to this gentleman’s family,” Jenkins said.

The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office contacted Morgan’s mother shortly after his body was located, said Sgt. Anglie Holmes Hightower, the department’s regular public information officer.

Hightower stated on Friday June 22 that the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office will continue their death investigation of Morgan, and an autopsy will be scheduled in the near future.

By Randall Lieberman