South Georgia duck hunt ends with 1 dead, 1 hospitalized

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A Baxley couple's duck-hunting trip ended tragically on the Altamaha River.

Appling County sheriff's deputies recovered the body of Archie Courson, 32, shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday a few hundred yards from where he and his girlfriend, Gwen Spell, were thrown overboard when their boat capsized Tuesday afternoon, Chief Deputy Lee J. Sweat said.

It appeared Courson died from exposure or drowned. An autopsy will be performed today at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Savannah, Sweat said.

Deputies rescued Spell, 34, shortly after midnight after finding her clinging to a submerged tree stump where she had spent about nine hours in the frigid water. She was found upstream from Deen's Landing.

Suffering from hypothermia, Spell was taken to Appling Healthcare System's hospital in Baxley, Sweat said.

Spell was listed in stable but guarded condition Wednesday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The water temperature of the river was about 35 degrees overnight Tuesday, authorities estimated.

The couple were dressed in winter clothing and wearing life vests when they launched their boat from Deen's Landing to go duck hunting about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"They hit a log floating in the river and their boat capsized, throwing both of them into the water," Sweat said.

Spell managed to make it to the stump, but Courson was carried away by the current. When the couple didn't return by 5 p.m., family members went to the landing and found their parked truck and empty boat trailer.

Sweat said relatives reported the couple to the Sheriff's Office about 10:40 p.m. Tuesday triggering a boat search involving about 100 people including volunteers, sheriff's deputies, emergency personnel from Appling, Jeff Davis and Toombs counties and Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers.

After locating Spell, searchers kept looking for Courson but suspended the search about 2 a.m. because of darkness and dangerous conditions on the river. They resumed the search at dawn, and DNR rangers located Courson's body near a log in the water, authorities said.

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johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 01/07/10 - 08:03 am
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Dangerous hobbies are ...

Dangerous hobbies are ... dangerous. It's part of the appeal. No one expects things to go this wrong, though. My sympathies the the injured and their families.

grouse
1635
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grouse 01/07/10 - 08:28 am
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While this is not funny, my
Unpublished

While this is not funny, my first thought on reading the headline on the home page was, "the ducks finally win one!"

HowieBoutneaux
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HowieBoutneaux 01/07/10 - 08:37 am
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First, my sympathies and

First, my sympathies and prayers to the survivor and the family and friends of both. However, I think the headline is deceptive. I am sure many readers will fall for the tease and click on the story (hoping) to hear about a firearm accident. "1 dead and 1 hospitalized in boating accident" would have been more accurate.

Dixieman
13845
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Dixieman 01/07/10 - 10:09 am
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Easily curable by

Easily curable by hunter/boating safety course.

Philo-Publis
1
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Philo-Publis 01/07/10 - 11:01 am
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There is no government run

There is no government run hunting course that can prepare you for a freak accident like this. What a tragic story.

rbk
0
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rbk 01/07/10 - 01:07 pm
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I agree with Howieboutneaux,

I agree with Howieboutneaux, I clicked on the story expecting to read about an incident similar to that of the the former vice president when he went hunting.

corgimom
30076
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corgimom 01/07/10 - 07:41 pm
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Nature is brutal, there is no

Nature is brutal, there is no such thing as 100% safe boating and fishing. You assume the risk when you do it.

corgimom
30076
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corgimom 01/07/10 - 08:06 pm
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The headline is deceptive?

The headline is deceptive? What is deceptive about it?

1941
4
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1941 01/08/10 - 05:47 am
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Stupid people, and thier

Stupid people, and thier hobbies!!!Or were they hunting for food? Either way it was stupid!! The ducks win!!!

SOUTHERNANDPROUD
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SOUTHERNANDPROUD 01/09/10 - 04:33 am
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Hunter/boating safety courses

Hunter/boating safety courses can't stop the acts of mother nature. Accidents happen! A family is dealing with the loss of a brother, son, father and friend. He was a good man and would never put himself muchless anyone else in harms way. Only one man is in charge. What happened to compassion for people? What if this were your family......

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