South Carolina national park closed to search for missing man, children

April 29, 2014

(Google Maps)

Congaree National Park, a swampy expanse in South Carolina located about half an hour away from Columbia, has been closed to visitors as dozens of searchers continue to look for a missing man and two children.

Jerry Kimbler, 43, of Springdale, S.C., was with his children — a son, 10, and a daughter, 6 — in the park on Saturday when they got lost after heading down a trail, the National Park Service said. Kimbler sent a text message to a friend on Saturday at about 9:30 p.m. asking for help.

More than 80 park rangers, trained personnel and volunteers from local and state emergency management teams and law enforcement groups have been conducting a search since Saturday, scouring about 9,000 acres of the park’s 27,000 acres. These crews have walked trails, deployed dogs, searched by boat and utilized helicopters and other aircraft using thermal imaging and night vision cameras.

The search has been complicated by trees that were downed by a winter ice storm, the National Park Service said, and while the weather hasn’t been particularly bad so far, storms are expected later in the week.

The park remains closed to accommodate the search, officials said. Searchers planned to stop the search on Monday night and resume at dawn on Tuesday.


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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