06/20/07 — Officers participate in recovery of victim

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Officers participate in recovery of victim

By Lee Williams
Published in News on June 20, 2007 1:45 PM

The body of a man who drowned Monday after his boat capsized in a pond in Clayton has been recovered, thanks to divers and two K-9 officers from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

After an 11-hour search, the body of 44-year-old Michael Jerome Nichols of South Lumbard Street was recovered from a pond located off Plantation Point off N.C. 42 East in Clayton.

Nichols was first reported missing about 9:30 p.m. Monday, Johnston County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said.

"Three men were fishing and somehow the boat began taking water," Ms. Amaon said. "Two of them swam to shore."

Nichols didn't make it out.

The men did not have life jackets on while fishing in the small boat, and officials said alcohol was involved in the incident.

"They did have a cooler with beer in it, but who drank what we don't know," she said.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Dive and K-9 Team were called to assist with the search and recovery effort.

Officers searched the pond until 2 a.m. They resumed their search at 5 a.m., and the Nichols' body was recovered at about 10:40 a.m.

Wayne County sheriff's divers who are attached to the Arr-Mac Water Response Team, Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy Randy Thompson, his dog, Linda, and Deputy Jayson Hill, and his dog, Cora, were credited with the find, Ms. Amaon said.

"They helped us very much," she said. "Our handler and dog were in Washington, D.C. for a conference and were unavailable, and we needed some help."

K-9 Officer Linda was the first one to indicate on a scent where the victim might have been located, Thompson said.

This is Linda's second such find as a cadeaver dog.

In December, Linda was the first to indicate on the scent of a Greenville man whose body was found in the Tar River. Linda's partner, Cora, confirmed the location.

He said this reflects highly on the dogs' training.

"If you keep up the training, they will do what they are supposed to do for you," he said.