Missing boaters’ bodies found

DNR and Pimlico Fire and Rescue vessels searching the Cooper River on Tuesday found the body of 27-year-old Robbie Mullinax, of Goose Creek.

The bodies of two boaters who had been missing in the Cooper River since Saturday were recovered Tuesday, ending four days of watching and waiting by friends and families.

Two fishermen found the body of Robert Allen Andrews, 57, of Goose Creek, Tuesday morning. Rescue workers found the body of Robbie Mullinax, 27, also of Greek Creek, a few hours later.

Andrews was sailing with friends along the Cooper River Saturday when he pulled the rings off his fingers and said he was going for a swim.

He jumped from a moving boat into the water near the Pimlico community about 6 p.m.

His body resurfaced near the Pimlico boat landing, spotted by a pair of fisherman about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.

The body was recovered about two miles downstream from where he disappeared, Salisbury said.

His family identified the body based on a pair of swim trunks he was wearing, he said.

Salisbury said his death appeared to be the result of an accidental drowning. No obvious injuries or wounds were noticed on the body when it was pulled from the water, he said.

Andrews was a longtime worker at Blue and Gold Auto Salvage.

He leaves behind a wife and several children.

Rescue workers were looking for Andrews’ body as darkness approached Saturday when two cigarette boats collided in the river about 8 p.m. Several people were sent to hospitals, at least two with serious injuries. Mullinax was missing until Tuesday.

Rescue workers found his body about 1:30 p.m., Salisbury said.

Mullinax, a Moncks Corner native, worked for Berkeley Electric Cooperative.

He had been married less than a year.

His wife was seriously injured in the boat accident and remains hospitalized.

The four-day search covered a 5-mile stretch of the river, which is 20 to 30 feet deep in that area, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Lt. Robert McCullough said.

Rene Hightower, 24, and her husband, Daniel Hightower, 27, watched from their home as authorities searched the waters Tuesday morning.

They opened their homes to the missing men’s watchful family members Saturday. At that point, the families were still filled with hope, Rene Hightower said.

“They hoped that they were just on a bank somewhere injured and they couldn’t call for help,” she said. “It’s just tragic to find them under these circumstances.”

Dave Munday contributed to this report. Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.