Body of missing woman found in Bogue Chitto River _lowres

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents searching for Joni Morgan, who has been missing since a boat she was in capsized near Lock 3.

The body of 31-year-old Jonie Morgan was found Wednesday in the Bogue Chitto River, less than a mile from where Morgan vanished under the turbulent water at a low-head dam on the Pearl River Navigational Canal when the boat she was in capsized Saturday.

The body, recovered about 6 p.m., was identified as Morgan’s by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office.

Morgan, of Folsom, was in a 14-foot aluminum flat-bottom boat near Lock 3 in Bush with 41-year-old Terry O’Keefe and her three young children when the accident occurred. O’Keefe’s body was recovered Sunday morning. All three children survived.

The St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, had been searching the waterway since the accident. The incident is being investigated by the state agency.

The children, a 4-year-old girl and two boys, ages 6 and 8, were wearing personal flotation devices and were rescued by others in the area. Leyton Page, a 16-year-old boater, saw Morgan and the boys in the water and went to their aid. His boat also capsized, but another boater pulled Page and the two boys to safety.

The girl was trapped under the boat for at least 30 minutes but was kept afloat by her life vest and was able to breathe. She eventually popped out and was pulled to safety.

Shantell Broussard, Morgan’s sister, said the family wanted to thank Wildlife and Fisheries and the Sheriff’s Office for the many hours they spent searching for Morgan. “We know that they have been away from their loved ones while searching for our loved one,’’ she said.

The family can now “move on to the next stage of the grieving process, and we couldn’t do that until she was found,’’ Broussard said.

The children are staying with Morgan’s aunt and are all physically well.

Morgan, who grew up in the Folsom area, lived there her entire life and was a graduate of Covington High School, Broussard said.

The area where the boat capsized is characterized by dangerous currents caused by the low-head dam, or sill, according to Joel Cromp, a senior agent with Wildlife and Fisheries, who said other drownings have occurred there. The motor on the boat was either not on or failed, Cromp said, and the turbulent water capsized the boat.

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