May 21, 2009
A 44-year-old Itawamba County Dive Team member lost his life Wednesday during the search for a missing 15-year-old in the Buttahatchie River in Monroe County.
David Sheffield, of 512 Dalton Road in Tupelo, was pronounced dead on arrival at about 1:15 p.m. at the Pioneer Community Hospital in Aberdeen.
Shortly before his death, Sheffield, an Itawamba County volunteer diver, complained of breathing problems while searching for missing Smithville teen Taylor Smith in the river.
"Mr. Sheffield and other members of the team had been in the water between one and two hours," said Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley. "According to a witness I spoke with, Sheffield came to the surface and said he could not breathe."
Emergency crews on the scene moved Sheffield by boat to the shore and began administering medical treatment before the victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Gurley explained.
While officials have not yet determined Sheffield''s cause of death, an autopsy was scheduled at the Mississippi Crime Lab in Jackson this morning.
As of this morning, funeral arrangements were incomplete and were being handled by McNeece-Morris Funeral Home in Fulton.
Although dive teams and emergency responders from several cities and counties have been searching for Smith nearly 18 hours per day since he was reported missing May 15, the teen''s body has not yet been located.
Among those searching for the teen are the Columbus Fire and Rescue Dive Team, the DeSoto County Sheriff''s Department Search and Rescue Team, the Lamar County, Ala., Emergency Management Agency, the Monroe County Search and Rescue and Dive teams, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, and several local volunteers.
"We have brought in every resource that was available to us to safely search for the missing teenager. We are working in dangerous conditions, and others'' safety is a priority," said Monroe County Sheriff Andy Hood. "We are continuing the recovery effort, and hope to get some closure for this family soon."
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