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Crews continue to search for missing diver near Southport


SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- Rescue crews are still looking for a missing diver that was last seen in the Cape Fear River near Southport. Rescuers say he was an experienced diver and was very familiar with the area.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Danny Stump went missing Saturday afternoon. Witnesses say he was last seen diving a few yards offshore looking for ancient artifacts.

Rescuers say 56-year-old Stump, who lives in New Hanover County, was diving with a friend in and decided to go out one more time alone.

"He walked in right off the shore and the friend that he was with knew how much time he could be down and he was down too long,” said Greg Cumbee, Chief of the Southport Fire Department.

Rescuers were notified that stump went missing around 1 p.m. Saturday.

"We've kept the search up last night looking for him, hoping we could find something but when it got so dark we called it off," said Cumbee. "We were right back on it this morning resuming the same operations. We've got several departments around here helping us."

Diving is a hobby of Stump's that family members say he has enjoyed for years.George Willis lives on the banks of the Cape Fear River and says Stump has been diving in the area for a while now.

“He was very familiar with the water and knew what he was doing,” said Willis. “It sounds like a very safe thing that he was doing.”

Willis believes Stump was looking for old bottles made in the 1800’s. He says it is common for folks to bottle hunt both in the river and on land.

"They are old fashioned stopper bottles," said Willis. “Some people seem to like them and they are always digging them up.”

The U.S. Coast Guard, three dive teams, Brunswick County Air One Helicopter, along with Southport Police and Fire Departments joined together in the search efforts.

Rescue crews will begin their third day of searching for Stump at dawn Monday morning.

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