By Joe Johnson
An Athens man who had been missing for over a week was found near a shotgun when his body was recovered Monday afternoon from the North Oconee River by divers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, according to the Law Enforcement Division of the Georgia DNR.
The body of 27-year-old Seth Evans was turned over to Athens-Clarke Coroner Sonny Wilson, who said he could not speculate on the man’s cause of death until the results of an autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office are known.
Wilson also said a bag of concrete were in a back pack Evans was wearing, but he could not say if that was used to weight Evans down in the water.
Wilson said that members of a search party that included local firefighters and personnel from the Georgia and South Caolina DNRs located Evans’ body in water about 15-feet deep behind the ruins of Charlie Williams’ Pinecrest Lodge on the banks of the North Oconee River.
Wilson said he was confident the body was that of the missing man due to personal contents of Evans that were in the back pack that was found with the body.
Athens-Clarke County police said they had seen video footage of Evans purchasing a 60-pound bag of concrete mix prior to his disappearance.
On its Facebook page Monday evening, Georgia DNR’s Law Enforcement Division gave this account of their role in the search for Evans:
"Over the past 2 weeks Game Wardens have assisted in some capacity with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in the search for a missing 27-year-old male in the Athens area. This morning Lt. Colonel Mike England, Cpl. Craig Fulghum, and GWFC Phillip Nelson were on scene to assist in searching the North Oconee River. Lt Colonel England requested the South Carolina DNR specialized sonar/dive team to help search the river due to the difficulty in running a stationary sonar. At approximately 1:00 p.m., the body was located by a member of the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department submerged off the bank of the river.
The SC DNR dive team made the recovery and during their dive a shotgun was recovered near the victim in the river. The body was turned over to the Clarke County Coroner."