River search ends well

Two youngsters suspected of falling into the Des Moines River were found safe and sound late Friday evening.

Fort Dodge police officers, on Friday afternoon, saw a young male who matched a photo and description of one of the two youngsters and confirmed that both he and his sibling, who had been fishing in the river, were the subjects of the search.

Dozens of rescuers patrolled a stretch of the Des Moines Thursday evening and Friday morning after witnesses reported seeing two young people playing on the swollen river’s east side. The witnesses said one youngster went ino the water, and the other followed.

According to the Fort Dodge Police Department, the witness and the other occupants of their vehicle turned their vehicle around to check on the two. By the time they could see the area, again both youngsters had disappeared.

About 30 emergency personnel were involved in the initial search Thursday night, which included a boat and a small airplane in and along the river, which was 5 feet above flood level. The search was called off after dark, resumed after 8 a.m. Friday and suspended later that morning. As of Friday afternoon, officers had not received any reports of missing persons and had received tips on people matching the descriptions and a witness’s photo of one of the youngsters.

Fort Dodge Fire Chief Kent Hulett said, at the time the search was called off, it would be resumed if any new information indicated that a search was necessary.

Friday afternoon Fort Dodge Police officers Matt Webb and Donald McLaren saw a youngster in the area of 1100 Avenue B who matched the description of the young man seen in the witness’s photo. With the assistance of Fort Dodge Police Detective Steve Hanson, they were able to determine that the youngster was the person photographed and that he and his sister were safe.

“We are extremely thankful that the two youth have been found, safe and sound,” said Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody in a press release.

“Due to the age of the youth, we are not releasing their names. We want to thank everyone that assisted in this investigation – callers, witnesses, media, first responders and all the other law enforcement and fire personnel who worked so diligently to conduct the initial search and rescue, as well as the follow-up investigation.”

Search operations involved Iowa State Patrol aircraft and spotters, Fort Dodge Fire Department and Iowa Department of Natural Resources on the water, and the local fire and police departments on land, along with the Webster County Sheriff’s Department and Iowa State Patrol.