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Man's body found inside truck that plunged off Gadsden's Meighan Bridge

Divers work to pull a truck up from the Coosa River. The truck plunged off Meighan Bridge on Sunday. One body was recovered from the truck. (Stephen Quinn | abc3340.com)

Etowah County Coroner London Pearce identified the body pulled from a sunken truck as 56-year-old Bobby Lee Benefield.

Benefield was a resident of the Ballyplay Community in Etowah County. Authorities had notified Benefield's family of his death.

The Gadsden Fire Department and other local agencies plan to continue searching the Coosa River on Tuesday after receiving multiple reports Sunday of a possible second person inside the truck.

Accident investigators are asking for the public’s assistance. If anyone saw Mr. Benefield prior to the incident, they are urged to contact Gadsden Police Department Traffic Investigator, Sam Lowe, at 256-549-4631.

The fire department told ABC 33/40 News the truck was found on the Coosa River bed, 22 feet below the surface. Strong currents and near zero visibility proved a challenge for divers called in from across east Alabama. A team from Daphne, Alabama was also brought in to use sonar technology to map the river bed.

Air bags were used to float the truck off of the river bottom onto a nearby bank, where a tow truck pulled it out of the water. The mangled truck was towed from the scene after the body was removed.

Tony Ramsey can still remember the sound he heard when driving over the Meighan Bridge on Sunday, "It's nerve-wracking. My nerves was tore up all day. It's something you don't want to see. You know? It's bad."

Ramsey was driving home from a day of fishing when he said he looked out his rear window to see the truck plunge from the bridge. He immediately rushed his boat to Coosa Landing to see if he could help. The truck sank as he pulled up in his boat he said.

"People was telling me to jump in but I didn't jump in because the current was so strong. They'd be getting me out of the bottom too."

The recovery effort drew considerable attention on social media from Gadsden residents. Police had to clear cars belonging to spectators parked along Albert Rains Boulevard. Many huddled under the Meighan Bridge throughout the afternoon to watch the divers. Dozens more showed up to watch the truck be towed from the water.

WATCH: Gadsden Police update recovery operation


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