Several area volunteer fire departments joined local police and other emergency personnel Tuesday in an extensive search for a missing 71-year-old man in the area of Steppig Road west of Bluff Road in rural Columbia.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the body of Marvin Mueller was found deceased in a water-filled creek at the edge of his large farm property located in the 2100 block of Steppig Road.
Monroe County Bob Hill pronounced Mueller deceased at 9 p.m.
Mueller was found in approximately six feet of water by the Mehlville (Mo.) Technical Rescue dive team after a K-9 directed searchers to that area of Little Carr Creek, Hill stated in a news release.
“An autopsy will take place on Thursday to aid in the investigation that is ongoing by the Monroe County Coroner’s Office to determine the cause and manner of death,” Hill said.
Funeral services take place Friday and Saturday in Columbia. For Mueller’s obituary, click here.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jim Lansing said more than 150 volunteers participated in the day-long search. The area of the creek in which Mueller was found is about 20 feet wide and had about six feet of standing water, Lansing said.
“The family said he did a lot of walking,” Lansing told the Republic-Times, adding that Mueller typically checked the creek for debris and blockages following heavy rains.
“He may have just went there to check the creek,” Lansing said. “We really believe it was just an unfortunate accident.”
The official search began about 11 a.m., although neighbors reported they started looking for Mueller since about 8 a.m. Assistance from area departments continued throughout the day and into the evening.
Among the agencies providing the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and Columbia Fire Department with manpower and equipment for the search of nearby fields, grain bins and muddy terrain included Waterloo, Millstadt, Dupo, Red Bud, Valmeyer, Maeystown, Hecker, Smithton, Cahokia, Camp Jackson, Midway, Prairie Du Pont, Freeburg and Swansea fire departments, Columbia EMS, Gateway K-9 search team, Eureka (Mo.) Fire Department K-9 search unit, Kaskaskia Valley Regional Task Force, Monroe County EMA, St Clair County EMA, St. Clair County Emergency Special Services, Mehlville (Mo.) Fire Department Technical Rescue Team, Metro Air Helicopter Support and Illinois State Police Air Support.