SCDNR says no foul play suspected in Tyler Doyle disappearance

Tyler Doyle
Numerous agencies have been involved in the search for missing duck hunter Tyler Doyle. (photo courtesy of N. Myrtle Beach Rescue)

Tyler Doyle’s case is a hunting/boating accident

The SCDNR is continuing its search for missing duck hunter Tyler Doyle near the NC/SC border, and they recently addressed speculation swirling in the area about the case.

After Doyle disappeared on Jan. 26 near the Little River jetties, a search by the US Coast Guard and local agencies came up empty handed. Almost immediately, even as numerous agencies and volunteers continued looking for Doyle, speculation of foul play ran like wildfire, with social media claims coming up with all manner of conspiracies.

But SCDNR said it’s all unfounded in a recent press release. This is a case of a hunting/boating accident, they said.

Through eyewitness accounts and phone records, SCDNR determined nothing shady has taken place in Doyle’s disappearance or in the aftermath.

On Feb 13, the Department released this statement:

S.C. Department of Natural Resources continues its ongoing search for Tyler Doyle and reiterated its position that the case is a hunting/boating accident.

SCDNR’s investigation indicated that at about 4 p.m. on Jan. 26, Tyler Doyle and a friend were duck hunting in a 16-foot jon boat at the Little River jetties. The jetties are rock structures near the South Carolina/North Carolina line that extend from shore out into Little River Inlet and help boats navigate the swirling tides and currents.

A small-craft advisory was in effect that afternoon, meaning seas were rough and not conducive for smaller vessel operation. Tyler initially dropped the friend off on the north jetty and then moved away in the boat to scout and put out some duck decoys. They stayed in contact on the phone, although the friend said he lost sight of Tyler as he went around the south jetty. Shortly afterwards Tyler called his friend stating the boat was having mechanical issues and he couldn’t keep the motor running and the boat was taking on water.

Another boat was flagged down by Tyler’s friend and attempted to get to Tyler but had to return because of rough sea conditions.

A 911 call initiated a multi-agency search including SCDNR, North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue and the Coast Guard. An Horry County Fire Rescue boat was on scene within nine minutes of being dispatched. Tyler’s friend was rescued from the Little River jetties and they were able to locate Tyler’s boat, which was submerged with the bow up and motor down, with only a foot of the boat showing above water. Rescuers noted the water temperature was 50 degrees, and the air temperature was 39 degrees.

SCDNR’s lead investigator for this case, Ronnie Floyd, confirmed numerous calls were made by Tyler and his friend to 911, as well as family and friends seeking assistance. Location data from Tyler’s Life360, a location-sharing app, which was provided to investigators by Tyler’s family corroborates the independent carrier location data obtained from Tyler’s phone carrier.

SCDNR investigators say the phone records, coupled with the data location information, witness interviews, a boat inspection and recovered items currently indicate this to be a hunting/boating accident and no foul play is suspected at this time.

Rumors regarding pending criminal charges against Tyler are unfounded.

Weather conditions that day, coupled with boating mechanical issues, appear to be the predominant contributing factors.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources remains committed to continuing the search as conditions allow. The agency currently has assistance from Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, N.C.

Wildlife Resources Commission and help from the nonprofit search-and-rescue organization Wings of Hope. SCDNR wants to thank all agencies that have assisted.

“We mourn right alongside Tyler’s family and our officers have been with them throughout this process,” said SCDNR Investigator Ronnie Floyd. “We want to bring them closure, and that’s why we are working every day to try and find him.”

SCDNR is providing regular updates on Twitter @SCDNR.

-SCDNR press release

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