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River currents hamper search for car in Minnesota

April 28, 2014
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Treacherous currents and heavy rain hampered the search for a car that went into the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, and authorities weren't sure several hours later whether anybody was inside.

Major Darrell Huggett of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office told reporters a jogger reported a car in the river around 9 a.m. Huggett said a Minneapolis police officer saw it sink nose first.

A buoy was placed to mark the approximate place where the car went under, he said, and investigators were using a boat towing a side-scanning sonar device to try to find the car. Huggett said authorities opted not to send down divers until they find the car because of the swift current, which he said was four to five times the normal summer level.

"It's extremely dangerous now due to the current," Huggett said, adding that the heavy rain has "wreaked havoc on our electronics."

The sheriff's office suspended the search for the vehicle about 6 p.m. Sunday and said it will resume at 8 a.m. Monday.

The search area was about 100-150 yards downstream from the 10th Avenue Bridge, near the University of Minnesota campus, in about eight to 12 feet of water. Tire tracks were spotted near the bridge in a place where gravel leads all the way down to the river, he said.

If searchers spotted the car via sonar, they would send down a robotic camera into the murky water to try to get a look at the license plate and to see if anybody was inside, said Lt. Art Saunders, commander of the department's water patrol. A diver would then be sent down to try to attach a tow rope to the car to haul it up, he said.

There were no fresh missing person reports, Huggett said. And the only description investigators had of the car was that it was silver or gray. He also said it's not unusual for thieves to dispose of stolen cars in the river.

"The weather's been extremely challenging for us out here," Huggett said. "The deputies are wet, they're cold, but they'll continue to work this scene until we can get some closure."

 
 

 

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