Fears grow for missing narrow boat owner Mike Doherty
FEARS are growing for a man who has been missing since leaving a riverside pub to return to his beloved narrow boat.
Police dive teams spent the weekend searching Hanham Lock for popular Mike Doherty, who it is feared may have fallen into the river Avon after enjoying a drink with friends in Hanham last Thursday night.
Mr Doherty was last seen in the Chequers pub, Hanham Mills, but has not been in contact with anyone since. Police believe he tried to get back onto his boat, moored nearby, because some of his possessions were found on the riverbank.
Dive teams went into the water twice over the weekend and local boats manned by some of Mr Doherty's friends have been out searching regularly.
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Locals said the river was flowing fast on the night in question and due to the high tide, water levels were more than 6ft above the norm.
Keith Cumner was at the pub with him last Thursday night.
"There were about half a dozen of us enjoying a drink," said the 51-year-old, who has had a boat on the river for five years.
"It was friendly and sociable, as it always is down there.
"We've all been looking for Mike ever since. We've been taking our boats out every couple of hours.
"The water levels last Thursday were very high because of the tide – they were probably seven or eight feet above the normal level. With the temperature of the water as well, it would have been a challenge for anyone who fell in to get out."
A former merchant seaman, Mr Doherty is experienced on the water.
Mr Cumner said his friend has a flat in Staple Hill and had moored his 60ft narrow boat near Hanham lock for the past year.
"Mike is a lovely, unassuming and generous man," he added. "We just hope that we find him."
Local lock keeper Trevor Skoyles said Mr Doherty, who is in his 60s, is well-known in the area.
He said local people were being "realistic" about what may have happened.
"It doesn't look good for him," he said. "There is a real sadness in the community.
"I was first made aware of it on Friday night. There were searches on Friday and then from first thing on Saturday we searched from Netham Lock to his boat."
Police spokesman Martin Dunscombe said: "On Friday, a man in his 60s was reported missing from his boat, which was moored off Castle Farm Road and Ferry Road. Police attended the scene and a missing person investigation was launched.
"It is believed that the man may have fallen into the river. Police teams have searched the river and the banks. Enquiries continue."
Anyone who saw Mr Doherty after he left the pub that night should call police on 101.