BCSO: Search for missing man is now a “recovery mission”

Nearly half a dozen agencies were scouring the waters around Fort Morgan Pier when we arrived around 10:30 a.m. Even more were here late last night into the early morning hours, orchestrated by the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

“Around 2:30 the weather, the weather really got bad. We had a lot of lightning. We had divers in the water from Bon Secour Rescue and we pretty much had to call it off until the weather cleared and we resumed the search about 7 o’clock,” Glenn Stevens, assistant chief with the Fort Morgan Fire Department, said.

The search was for 26-year-old B.J. Johnson. He was fishing with a few his cousins Friday evening when Johnson fell off the pier.

“When he hit the water he panicked. He still had a fishing line in his hand, fighting like this,” Willie Watts, one Johnson’s cousins who was with him Friday night, said.

Watts said their friend, Tre, dove in to rescue Johnson while Watts cast a net for Johnson to grab. But Tre struggled to stay afloat since Johnson wasn’t moving.

“So Tre tried, he did three more times trying to lift his head up out of the water to get him some air and after a while, Tre was about to drown himself. So Tre had to let him go and grab the net and I had to pull Tre from in front of the pier all the way around to the shore line where he could get out,” Watts said.

Officials said this was a unique case.

“I’ve been with the fire department for 20 years and this is the first person that’s ever fallen off the pier and has been lost,” Stevens said.

And unfortunately, Stevens said the search for the young father has gone from “rescue” to “recovery.”

“That’s the biggest thing to me, he thinks about his kid first and then everything else comes after. That’s what I really care about. That’s what I look at,” Watts said. “He’s a good person and he’s a family man. He wanted to be there for his son.”

Family members told Fox10 News Johnson used to play full back and running back while attending Foley High School and Troy University. He also leaves behind a 14-month-old son.

Officials said Orange Beach’s dive team will be back in the waters Sunday morning around 8 a.m. The search on Saturday was cut off around 2 p.m. due to strong waves and undercurrents.

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