Body of missing Glen Allen boater found in Mattaponi River
KING AND QUEEN COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - The body of a missing boater was found in the Mattaponi River Wednesday evening, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
The search for Robert Melton, 76, of Glen Allen, turned into a recovery mission on Wednesday. Melton traveled to King and Queen County early Tuesday to go fishing on the river, according to his family.
Officials said Melton’s body was found in the channel by someone who was searching the area by jet ski.
“Robert has fished this water since he was 12 years old, so he knows this area and river very well,” BJ Crowder, Melton’s Associate Pastor at Glen Allen Baptist Church, said.
Around 9:30 a.m. Melton’s empty boat was found drifting down river roughly 2 miles from the bridge near Walkerton.
“The boat was found in good condition,” said Sgt. Frank Spuchesi with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “The boat was in a patch of lily pads down river. It was empty with fishing gear on board.”
Spuchesi added the search effort Wednesday was focused in the area from Woodbury Road up to the bridge in Walkerton.
“Typically that’s where we’ll end up finding individuals on rivers or in bodies of water; they’re usually in the areas where their vessels are at,” he said.
However, officials still do not know what could have happened to Melton, including whether he was wearing a life jacket.
His family said Melton was a “safety man” and would have had one on without a question.
“This accident, I’m willing to bet, was not safety related,” Crowder said. “He always took precaution to be safe out on the water.”
Family and friends joined the search effort, trying to locate their loved one, who they said, was always the first to help someone out.
“Just a great man,” Crowder said. “One of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. Would do anything for his family and friends and would even take the shirt off his back for even those who didn’t know him… all I can think of is how much he loves his family, his friends and loves fishing.”
Marine Patrol units utilized sonar technology to scan the bottom of the river and along the vegetation filled banks. They also brought in two drones in the late afternoon.
“The biggest challenge we’re going to have is this river is wide in areas,” Spuchesi said. “There is a channel but there are a lot of mud flats. So as the tide goes down it makes it very difficult for us to get our boats up into the shallow water.”
Melton’s family and friends said support and prayer is what will help them get through.
“I know this is an extremely hard situation on a lot of people but just anything I can do to help,” Crowder said.
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