Search for boater turns up nothing

Rescuers and police crews prepare to search around a boat at St. Johns Yacht Club, where 54-year-old Charles Fernell went missing late Wednesday. Fernell lived on a boat and worked at the marina.

Searches of the Stono River Thursday turned up no signs of a Johns Island marina resident who disappeared the night before.

Charles Dale Fernell, 54, who lives on a boat at the St. Johns Yacht Harbor on Maybank Highway, and works at the marina, was last seen by his son between 10 and 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Speculation that he might have fallen into the water caused the Coast Guard and Charleston city and county authorities to use boats, a helicopter and divers to search waters and under vessels docked at the marina.

During the afternoon, trucks and cars from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, the county volunteer rescue squad and city police were parked outside the Stono Breeze restaurant.

A Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead.

The Coast Guard said it searched the Stono River, then left the effort to local authorities in the afternoon after nothing was turned up.

Fernell is described as about 170 pounds and was last seen wearing a long-sleeve blue polo shirt with the sleeves rolled up, greenish khaki shorts and Sperry shoes.

Anyone with information about him can call the police at 577-7434.

Andrew Knapp is editor of the quick response team, which covers crime, courts and breaking news. He previously worked as a reporter and copy editor at Florida Today, Newsday and Bangor (Maine) Daily News. He enjoys golf, weather and fatherhood.