Coroner: Upstate fisherman missing 7 months drowned - FOX Carolina 21

Coroner: Upstate fisherman missing 7 months drowned

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Mitchell Gibson (Courtesy: Family) Mitchell Gibson (Courtesy: Family)
Crews search for missing fisherman at Lake Russell (October 18, 2016 FOX Carolina) Crews search for missing fisherman at Lake Russell (October 18, 2016 FOX Carolina)

The seven month search for a missing Upstate fisherman is finally over.

Commercial fisherman Mitchell Gibson disappeared back in March.  Since then his family has coordinated numerous search parties on and off land. 

After researching, Mitchell's sister, Kelly Johnson, found a search team with the right equipment that could greatly enhance search efforts.

"The equipment we use is called side scan sonar sound much and it uses sound much like an ultrasound and can see the bottom," Gene Ralston said. 

Ralston and his wife own the sonar boat and came all the way from Idaho to help with an investigation that is now a half a year old.

"It's just something that we feel almost a mission that we do gives us a very good feeling of helping people," Ralston said. 

Kelly Johnson's brother, Mitchell Gibson was thought to have drowned in Lake Hartwell. Now the family isn't as sure. 

"I can say with 90 percent he didn't just drown, and that boat didn't just sink," Johnson said. "We still don't have the bait tank, we don't have the boat, no gas, no oil, and no boat debris." 

Not only is this technology helping the family, it's benefiting counties like Pickens who are looking to bring it to the Upstate.

The Pickens County Water Rescue Response Team Coordinator Robert Porter said he's looking into the $60,000 investment. 

Johnson said if no boat is recovered she will assume foul play was involved in her brothers disappearance, and With the search continuing tomorrow, she wants everyone in the community to know one thing: "I wish people could understand how much we appreciate the prayers and helping them get here. We could never repay it, but we appreciate it," Johnson said. "They put a lot of effort, they put a lot of heart, a lot of heart into this."

The family is collecting donations for the ongoing search effort and to support the sonar search effort. Their Go Fund Me Page is listed here:

Thursday afternoon, Kelly Johnson told FOX that a search team may have located her brother in the lake.

"We have something," said Johnson. "We think it may be him."

On Thursday, Coroner Ronnie Ashley confirmed a body pulled from the water was identified as Gibson. The body was reportedly discovered in 137 feet of water around 6 p.m. on the day prior.

After an autopsy on Friday, Ashley said Gibson's cause of death was determined to be freshwater drowning but his manner of death remains undetermined. There were no signs of trauma on the victim's body, according to the coroner.

The case remains under investigation.

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