Two reported missing in river
Dozens of rescuers, including the pilot of a small plane, searched a stretch of the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge Thursday evening for two boys who reportedly entered the water.
The two were not found by the time the search was halted due to darkness at about 9:30 p.m. Emergency personnel were holding a late night conference at the Fort Dodge firehouse to plan their next move.
Police had not received any reports of missing people as of about 9:30 p.m.
Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody said two witnesses saw two boys playing by the swollen river on its east side. He said they were spotted near a flooded parking lot that was recently built at a river access point not far from the Kenyon Road Bridge.
He said the witnesses said one boy went into the water, and the other one followed.
Fire Chief Kent Hulett said the witnesses gave a “fairly detailed account of them going under the water.”
Emergency personnel were called at 7:01 p.m.
“A rescue operation is in place until we verify that they’re not missing,” Carmody said shortly after the search began.
“We’re going to go until we can’t go anymore,” he added.
The only description of the two boys available Thursday evening indicated that one was wearing a red shirt and one was wearing an orange shirt.
Three firefighters cruised the river in a small boat. Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officers brought a second boat to the scene, but it apparently was not placed into the river.
Hulett said using the boat was a high risk operation due to the river current and debris in the water. He said the river is 5 feet above flood stage and is flowing at about 19 mph.
Other firefighters and police officers walked along the east bank of the river. Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich joined them.
Pilot Jim Schrirer made a few passes over the river in a single engine plane. A small unmanned aerial vehicle was also used in the search.
Hulett said attempts were made to get an emergency medical helicopter or an Iowa Army National Guard helicopter to help, but none of those aircraft were available.
Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs said deputies were posted on the South River Road plus the bridges on U.S. Highway 20 and in Coalville which span the Des Moines River.
Police officers went door to door in neighborhoods near the river, asking if any children were missing.
Hulett said a shoe was found along the river, but added that there was no evidence it was linked to the boys.
About 30 people from the Fort Dodge police and fire departments, Trinity Regional Medical Center, the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources were involved in the search.
Anyone who may have any information about the boys is asked to call the Webster County Law Enforcement Center at 573-2323.