Sioux Falls, SD
As rescue teams approach hour 11 in the search for two people missing after they jumped in to save a six-year-old boy at Falls Park, they say there’s only a small chance these people are still alive.
Rescue teams have now transitioned their work from a rescue mission to one of recovery at Falls Park in Sioux Falls. They say it is no longer possible for the missing man and woman to be alive. However, the six-year-old boy, who was the first to fall into the water, is safe.
Fire Chief Jim Sideras says it started around 6 p.m. Thursday when a six-year-old boy fell into the water near the bridge at Falls Park.
We know a female family member jumped in to save him and then after that a man, who is not a relative, jumped in as well. A third person tried to pull the man, woman and child out of the water, but he was unable to do so because the current was too strong.
Authorities say they aren’t exactly sure how the six-year-old made it out of the water Thursday night. They say he could have grabbed onto something or the two who went to rescue him, may have helped him out of the water. The boy is reported to be okay.
Sideras says crews are trying to lower the water down, but that has its consequences.
“When we do that, that brings other obstacles, like the ice will then lower. So, we are trying a coordinated effort to move the ice and lower the water,” Sideras said.
That effort also includes using large equipment from the city’s public works department to break up large chunks of ice.
The park is closed to the public while crews from Sioux Falls Fire Rescue brave the bitterly cold water.
“There are a number of things they have special training for, swift water rescue and ice rescue. So they are trained, we have special equipment like suits for them. So the suits are designed to keep them warm and body temp,” Sideras said.
And by Friday morning, authorities say there’s a very small possibility that the two they are searching for will be alive.
There are also a lot of elements working against authorities that are making this recovery mission even more difficult.
There’s a lot of foam and ice and the Big Sioux River is flowing very fast. All these factors are making it hard for rescues crews to go down and search for the missing man and woman.
Currently, because of these conditions, their dive teams have not yet been able to go into the water. Instead, they are trying to get water levels down to a reasonable level and remove the ice. Then, they should be able to get into the water.
A group of people are also at the Falls, out on the Lookout Ledge, holding a prayer vigil. But, we aren’t sure how they are related to this situation.
KELOLAND News remains on the scene and will bring you updates as they become available.
Officials are holding a briefing at 9 a.m. to update us on their efforts to recover two bystanders who jumped into the river at Falls Park to rescue a six-year-old boy who fell off a bridge.