Regional divers play pivotal role in bringing Lake Jordan victims’ families closure

Divers help bring closure to families after Lake Jordan crash

ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lake Jordan covers around 6,800 acres and finding anything, including a missing person, is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

“It’s zero visibility," said Sgt. Eric Bruner of the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department. Bruner knows all about it. He’s a veteran diver.

Sgt. Eric Bruner of the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office was the incident commander for the search of Lake Jordan for two boating victims
Sgt. Eric Bruner of the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office was the incident commander for the search of Lake Jordan for two boating victims (Source: WSFA 12 News)

'"Mental preparation. You have to get ready for what you’re about to do," he said.

Bruner commanded a team of 28 divers all day Friday and 19 the following day. The mission was straight forward; find the bodies of Clay Jackson and Travis House.

“It’s a calling," he explained of his difficult job. Waiting for answers as Bruner and his team got to work was Leslie Fuller, Clay Jackson’s mom.

“It’s very, very tough for me and my whole family," she admitted.

A mother’s grief fuels Bruner even more to to keep searching for as long as it takes to bring closure to the hurting.

“You have to keep in mind you have a job to do and you have to do it," Bruner explained.

The job of a search and recovery diver is not for the faint of heart and you can’t be claustrophobic. The deeper you go, the darker it gets, and compounding the trip below the surface is 80 pounds worth of equipment.

Some of the equipment required for diving operations in the search for two boating victims on Lake Jordan.
Some of the equipment required for diving operations in the search for two boating victims on Lake Jordan. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

A 26-footer along with diving suits, air tanks and breathing masks with the ability to communicate to the team in the boat above, all part of the apparatus to do their job in the deep.

“He puts his dry suit on and slide these over his shoulders and he’s ready to go," Bruner said of the process before getting into the murky water.

The training includes being able to swim 500 yards without stopping, tread water for 15 minutes with hands out of the water for the final two minutes and a dive to retrieve an object nine feet below.

“He’s gotta be strong, yes sir," Bruner said of those who do the job.

While the outing on the lake ended tragically, Eric Bruner and his team did their part. They brought home closure for two hurting families.

Photos of Clay Jackson, one of two victims killed when boats collided on Lake Jordan on the night of July 4.
Photos of Clay Jackson, one of two victims killed when boats collided on Lake Jordan on the night of July 4. (Source: Leslie Fuller)

A total of seven people were involved in the boat collision on the night of July 4. Five were injured, as well as the two deaths.

Marine police say the crash remains under investigation.

According to the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office, numerous people were to take for helping with the recovering mission. They include: First responders from the Holtville Fire Department, Titus Fire Department, Montgomery Fire Department, Division Delta Dive Team with Homeland Security, Search and Rescue of Elmore County, ALEA, Tallapoosa County Search and Rescue, EMA of Elmore County, Alabama Conservation Game and Fish and the Chaplin’s Association of Elmore County.

There were also members of the community that helped, and got thanks from the ECSO. They include the “1:1 Foundation, Lake Jordan HOBO Association, The Creek Indian Casino, New Home Baptist Church, Kim’s Corner, Holley Oil, Linda Agerton, Jill Murchison, Cheryl Vinson, Jeff Royal, Vanessa Royal, and to the many other individuals and businesses that were not named or that donated anonymously to the incident.”

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.