Search for missing Picayune tuber turns into recovery mission

Melanie Borja
Melanie Borja

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - The search and rescue operation on the Bogue Chitto River for a missing Picayune woman has now turned to a search and recovery operation.

Authorities in Washington Parish, Louisiana say 22-year-old Melanie Borja was last seen Sunday afternoon tubing with friends from Pearl River County and Diamondhead.

Three days of an intense search operation have failed to produce any results. Authorities say what started off to be a fun day of tubing on the Bogue Chitto River quickly turned tragic.

"It was reported to us the young lady missing decided to get out of her tube and let her tube float on down the river and she decided to swim in the river and she was swimming in the river the last time they saw her. No one saw her go under no one heard her calling for help," said Chief Deputy Mike Haley with the Washington Parish Sheriff Department.

From the air and on the water the Coast Guard has spent the past few days searching for Borja, but the search and recovery operation has yet to yield results.

Haley said, "Toward the end of the day yesterday we brought in sonar and we ran sonar over the river in the area we thought she might have disappeared in, but we were unable to come up with anything."

Officials say part of the problem is the depth of the river varies and it is full of downed trees and other debris.

"There are still trees and roots systems left over from Katrina. Generally with a drowning like this as warm as it is if the body is under water unless the body is trapped in a log jam the body will generally surface within a couple of days so that time is getting very, very close for that to happen," explained Haley.

According to sheriff's officials Borja's parents who live in Picayune are clinging to hope.

"I've been talking to the father and the mother of the missing lady have determined they do not want to come to the site. They feel it would be to much of an emotional experience for them. Of course they are distraught as any parents would be." .

Folks who tub along the Bogue Chitto routinely say it's not something you should ever do alone.

"If your going to go down this creek tubing, canoeing whatever, stay in a group. Don't ever get alone when you get alone bad things happen," said Louisiana resident Farrion Fletcher.

Officials said the search for the body will continue until it is found.

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