Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore and Upson County Emergency Management Director Martha Anne McCarty issued the following press release on Monday, April 21, 2014:
On April 18, 2014 at approximately 10:30 p.m., the Upson County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about two missing boaters on the Flint River in the area of Sprewell Bluff Park. Upon arrival of deputies, it was discovered that a large group of soldiers from Ft. Benning had decided to float the river on this date. After putting in their canoes at the Highway 18 Bridge at noon they were going to float past Sprewell Bluff but it began to get dark so they decided to pull out at Sprewell Bluff. It was discovered that one (1) canoe with two (2) people was un-accounted for. The two men were identified as Todd Troiani and Benjamin McKinnen. Todd Troiani was described as having plenty of clothing on whereas Benjamin McKinnen was described as only having on shorts and sandals. Cell phone contact was made with Todd Troiani for a short period of time before his phone battery died. The last known sighting of them was at an area known as Goat Mountain.
Upson County Search and Rescue was dispatched to begin the task of searching the area for the two men. At approximately 3:15 a.m. a called was received from Meriwether County stating that they had found one of the men, Todd Troiani. A Georgia State Trooper transported Troiani back to Sprewell Bluff Park. After being interviewed it was discovered that Troiani had walked approximately 18 miles before finding a residence and calling for help. At approximately 4 a.m. the search for Benjamin McKinnen was called off for the night due to inclement weather and dropping temperatures.
On April 19, 2014, at approximately 8:30 a.m., an Officer from the Department of Natural Resources located Benjamin McKinnen on the Meriwether County side of the Flint River in the area of Goat Mountain. DNR Rangers and Upson Rescue used the EMA’s swift water rescue boat to retrieve McKinnen. It was determined that McKinnen buried himself in the sand overnight to stay warm until daylight. Both individuals were in good condition when located.
UCSO thanks assisting agencies: Upson EMA Rescue, Thurston VFD, GA State Patrol, GSP Aviation, GA DNR, Meriwether Dept of Public Safety and Talbot Co EMA.