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After four days, search for trucker missing in Neuse River scaled back

A crane pulls the trailer of a tractor-trailer truck from the Neuse River on Monday morning. The truck crashed through a guardrail on a bridge over the river near Kinston early Sunday morning.
A crane pulls the trailer of a tractor-trailer truck from the Neuse River on Monday morning. The truck crashed through a guardrail on a bridge over the river near Kinston early Sunday morning. NCDOT

The search for the driver of a truck that went into the Neuse River near Kinston over the weekend has been scaled back, after repeated efforts to find him in the murky, fast-moving river have been unsuccessful.

The tractor-trailer truck crashed through a concrete guardrail on a bridge over the river on U.S. 70/258 sometime before 4 a.m. Sunday. Divers found the truck’s cab on Sunday, but the windshield was smashed out and the driver was not inside.

Divers, guided by boats with sonar, continued the search through Wednesday but did not find the driver. First Sgt. Mike Baker of the State Highway Patrol says the underwater search has been suspended, but crews will continue to look by boat.

“They’re going to be patrolling the river twice a day in hopes of finding him,” Baker said.

The box truck belonged to a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service and was empty when it went into the river, said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Acree said authorities know who was assigned to drive the truck that night but are not releasing the name while the search continues.

The Neuse River has been experiencing minor flooding at Kinston for several days, and Baker said the river’s swift current makes it hard to predict where the driver will be found.

“If it was a pond or a lake or something, they would probably already have found him,” he said.

The truck was going westbound when it crashed through the railing along the left lane and fell between the twin spans that carry the road across the river. The N.C. Department of Transportation says one westbound lane will remain closed until the guardrail can be replaced, probably by the end of the week.

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