Search for Missing Men in Mississippi River Called Off

April 8, 2013
A 10-year-old boy was rescued shortly after the boat capsized in rough water.

April 08--HARTFORD -- Officers on Monday afternoon suspended their search for two St. Louis-area men who disappeared Saturday after their boat capsized on the Mississippi River, authorities said.

Police and firefighters spent Monday morning looking for two missing men, 49 and 60, with no sign of either of them. Their boat capsized in windy conditions Saturday.

"Chances are highly bleak they will be found alive," said Hartford Asst. Chief Bill Owens at a news conference Sunday evening. "Everyone has hopes, but we're in recovery mode."

Officers with the Illinois Conservation Police will resume their search Tuesday morning, Owens said. He would not release the names of the men, citing a request for privacy from relatives of the missing men.

Towboat workers rescued a 10-year-old boy near Rand Avenue at the north end of Hartford shortly after the boat capsized about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The boy's stepfather and a family friend have not been found, and presumably have drowned. The small fishing boat also has not been found and is believed to have sunk.

After searching Saturday, the hunt resumed about 8 a.m. Sunday and included Roxana and South Roxana fire department personnel, who walked and drove ATVs along the shore, and an Alton Fire Department rescue boat. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police swept the shoreline Sunday with boats equipped with sonar equipment, looking particularly around barges and docks.

The searches Saturday and Sunday stretched from Hartford -- about 17 miles north of downtown St. Louis -- south to the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Owens said searchers scoured the river around Chouteau Island.

Officials believe the boaters put in near the Alton Locks and Dam on the Missouri side and moved south to go fishing around Hartford. But their plans were dashed by two- to five-foot waves and high wind.

Investigators have not released the names of the two men or the 10-year-old boy.

Fire Chief David Owens, who handled an earlier news conference Sunday, said it was likely the boy rescued by the towboat crews had been in the water 10 or 15 minutes. He was taken to a hospital and later returned home with his mother on Saturday.

The child was wearing a life vest but told officials he believed he was the only one with a vest.

One set of dockworkers saw the boat overturn and last saw one adult near their dock but could not get to him in time.

The mission was helped by calmer weather conditions Sunday. For safety reasons, some agencies Saturday were discouraged from putting rescue boats in the water, and one turned its boats around as the wind picked up, the chief said.

Copyright 2013 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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