Brady Morton went missing during an alcohol-fueled rafting trip down the St. Clair River in Michigan, prompting a search spanning close to 200 miles of water.
The 19-year-old Morton was with a group of about 40 friends who were participating in the 2014 Port Huron Float Down Sunday. Witnesses said they saw Morton get off his raft and into the water, where he did not surface again.
After Brady Morton went missing search crews sprung into action, with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division and U.S. Coast Guard leading a search. They also called on other rafters to report any possible sightings of Morton.
But authorities said the search for Morton had some challenges. Port Huron Police Corp. Jason Barna said there were between 2,500 and 3,000 people participating in the float this year, and that by the end of the float many were “highly intoxicated, getting into fights.”
Authorities noted that alcohol was likely a factor when Brady Morton went missing.
On Monday, the search shifted to a recovery, with crews searching more than 150 miles of the river for Morton’s body. The search area is wider because Morton’s friends could not remember the last time they saw him, police noted.
“For the coast guard, we will throw everything at the case that we can, as soon as we are able, to just put everyone on scene and make sure everything is being covered,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw of the U.S. Coast Guard.
There have been some false reports that Morton has been found, authorities noted.”Make sure the information’s correct before passing it on,” Yaw told search crews.Late on Monday the search for Morton was suspended for the night, with efforts expected to resume early on Tuesday. Brady Morton was not the only person to go missing during the float. Authorities said a Canadian man also was listed as missing at one point, but it was later determined that he left his raft to take a nap on shore.