Missing Columbia man found dead in pond

Thursday, August 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia resident Mark Durrant, missing since late Monday night, was found dead inside his vehicle Wednesday afternoon in a pond off of Wehmeyer Road near Rocheport, said Maj. Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

A flyover by the Missouri State Highway Patrol's aircraft division in the area led to the discovery of the pond and Durrant's vehicle, according to Reddin.

Durrant, 52, was a pharmacist at Truman Veterans Hospital. He was described as an extreme diabetic and wore an insulin pump.

"The highway patrol was involved in the search and had an aircraft flying over the area," said Reddin. "They saw what appeared to be the roof of a vehicle submerged in the pond and called it in."

Law enforcement and emergency response personnel were sent to the location around 3 p.m., and the Boone County Fire Protection District provided a boat to aid the search. After finding the vehicle, the Missouri State Water Patrol was contacted, and divers were sent to the scene to recover the vehicle, according to Reddin. A wrecker was used to remove the vehicle from the pond.  

"Mr. Durrant's family and friends and supporters were on hand out there on Wehmeyer Road this afternoon," said Reddin. "They were there at the time the recovery was made."

Prior to the discovery, a coordinated volunteer search effort was undertaken by Durrant’s family, friends and co-workers from Truman Veterans Hospital.

“There was a report that he was last seen on Wehmeyer Road, so we started with that as a central location,” said Amanda Barnes, one of Durrant's co-workers who helped to coordinate the effort from the hospital’s pharmacy.

The pharmacy served as a command center for the search.

According to Barnes, the volunteers were acting under the premise that Durrant was having a "medical emergency due to his diabetes."

"When he was seen last, it was believed that he was suffering from low blood sugar,” Barnes said.

Nancy Dietz, a pharmacist at the hospital and one of the search's coordinators, worked with supervisors to get approval for some hospital employees to use a portion of their annual leave to assist in the search.

An autopsy will be performed Thursday to determine the cause of Durrant's death, Reddin said.

"It was a very tragic event, and there doesn't seem to be any criminality attached to the event," Reddin said. "But the investigation continues, and the medical examination will be very important for determining the cause and manner."

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is handling the official investigation.

There were no injuries to any personnel who responded to the scene or who took part in the vehicle's recovery.

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