Graduating senior from Long Beach identified as drowning victim

Graduating senior from Long Beach identified as drowning victim
Peyton Hensen was set to graduate Friday night from Long Beach High School. (Source: Photo Long Beach School District)

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A high school senior from Long Beach who was set to graduate Friday night has been identified as the young man who drowned in the Wolf River.

Just 24 hours before he was set to receive his diploma, 18-year-old Peyton Henson’s body was pulled from the Wolf River. Rescue teams spent hours searching the river near the Bells Ferry Bridge Thursday night after Henson was reported missing.

The Long Beach School District is saddened at the tragic death of Peyton Taylor Henson who lost his life yesterday. He...

Posted by Long Beach Schools Mississippi on Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday morning, the Long Beach School District identified Henson as the victim, posting a tribute to the young man with his senior photo.

Art teacher Angele Crawford remembered Henson as “Very kind, very pleasant.”

“He was a pleasure, absolute joy to have in my class,” she said. “He was usually one of the first ones to arrive in my class each day, and made it a point to say hello to me and ask me how my day was. Every day.”

Crawford said she was framing a couple of his art pieces from her class to give to his parents.

“He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family," she said.

Henson will be represented by an empty chair at Friday night’s graduation ceremony at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Other plans to remember the lost classmate have not been finalized.

LIVE REPORT: Father accepts diploma on behalf of son who drowned in Wolf River

Shortly after word spread, a Salt Life ball cap could be seen hanging from a tree at Wolf River on the sandbar where Henson and his friends were swimming.

A Salt Life cap hangs Friday on a tree At the Wolf River sandbar where Peyton Henson and his friends had been swimming yesterday.
A Salt Life cap hangs Friday on a tree At the Wolf River sandbar where Peyton Henson and his friends had been swimming yesterday. (Source: Photo WLOX)

Harrison County Deputy Coroner Brian Switzer confirmed that Hensen was found in the river. Authorities said he was pulled under the water by strong currents while swimming with a friend near Bells Ferry Bridge.

An exhaustive search by water was conducted with dive teams and boats from multiple agencies assisting, including Pass Christian Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, Department of Marine Resources and Gulfport Police Department.

Rescue workers from DMR and Pass Christian police department search the Wolf River on Thursday for a possible drowning victim.
Rescue workers from DMR and Pass Christian police department search the Wolf River on Thursday for a possible drowning victim. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

Sheriff Troy Peterson said the agencies used every tool at their disposal to find the teenager, including side-scan sonar, submersible drones and rescue dogs.

Hensen’s body was found at 9:30 p.m., about five hours after he was reported missing. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The river had recently returned to normal levels after several days of flooding.

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