BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – Search teams with the Department of Natural Resources and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office have resumed their search for a missing kayaker.
Investigators said 27-year-old Enrique Quinonez was kayaking with a friend along the Flat Rock River in Columbus Sunday morning.
They said his kayak capsized near the Mill Race Park and he disappeared into the water.
Investigators said Quinonez is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, but was visiting a friend in Columbus. Crews stayed in the water as long as possible but had to put the search on hold when nightfall hit. But they were battling more than just the hours in the day to try to find Quinonez.
“We’ve had operations go down river searching, we have not been able to locate anything, so at this point we’re going to search where he was last seen,” said conservation officer Jet Quellin.
Four teams in boats spent several hours poking at the bottom of the Flat Rock River, looking for any clues that might help find Enrique Quinonez.
“We always hold out hope. More than likely it’s going to be a recovery. We hold out hope that we’ll find the victim safe,” he said.
Up on the bridge looking over the water, you can see the area where Quinonez’s kayak flipped over.
Investigators said his friend swam in after him. They say the friend pulled Quinonez towards a tree in the water.
They both tried holding held on to different branches, but investigators said Quinonez lost his grip and went under.
“(He) couldn’t swim, did not have a life jacket, not an experienced kayaker,” said Quellin. “In these conditions, experienced kayakers wouldn’t go in the water so it’s a recipe for disaster.”
Those dangerous conditions include high, fast moving water. That prevented crews from putting on their dive equipment and jumping in.
Quellin did that exact search tactic 24 hours earlier when he found the bodies of 24-year-old Jana Patton and her 5-year-old son Bronson Liggett. Both were swept away when their car got stuck along a flooded road near Gosport.
“If there’s high waters, stay away from them. If there’s fast moving water, stay away from them. I wouldn’t be boating on them, I wouldn’t be driving through them,” advised Quellin.
Search teams did try to use sonar equipment during the search this evening but even it struggled with the water conditions.
Quellin said they’ll bring in stronger sonar equipment Monday as well as determine if the water is safe enough for divers to go in.
Six boats and a helicopter were called to aid in the search effort. People are advised to stay away from the area. A helicopter was also called to aid in the search effort. People are advised to stay away from the area.
The search picked back up at 7 a.m.