A six-year-old boy is safe after falling into the water at Falls Park Thursday night. But rescue teams are still searching the Big Sioux River for two people who jumped in the water to save the child and they've brought in additional equipment to help.
Fire Chief Jim Sideras says it happened around 6 p.m. Thursday when a six-year-old boy fell into the water near the bridge at Falls Park.
Sideras says a woman immediately jumped in the water to save the child, but was unable to get him out. Then a man jumped in the water to save the woman and child. Sideras is not sure if the two knew the boy or each other.
“Some lady tried helping him out, another gentleman held onto her foot and she ended up falling in and a buddy of mine went in there,” Arthur Eaglefeather said.
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.
A short time later, the six-year-old boy emerged from the water downstream at Falls Park. Sideras believes the boy may have been pushed up by someone in the water because the child emerged and was able to crawl up on the rocks.
The boy is okay and is with his mother in a car while rescuers are searching the ten to 15 foot deep water for the missing man and woman.
Three feet of thick foam, caused by the spring melt, is making the search more difficult. But the 33 degree water is actually helping the effort.
“We are still in rescue mode. People have known to survive submerged underwater in cold water for long periods of time, so that is the hope right now, but it's starting to get darker. The water is cold. We do have some challenges with ice, a lot of foam that's blocking visibility, operators getting into the water because of the depth of the falls,” Sideras tells KELOLAND News. “The fire department is all trained for cold water rescues and ice and water rescues, swift water rescues. We are doing everything we can; it’s a tough location to work in right now.”
As it got dark Thursday evening, crews brought in a backhoe to help break up the ice that remains in the river. They hope that will make it easier for them to locate the missing man and woman.
Officials are asking visitors to stay away from the park. Entrances into Falls Park have all been blocked off.
KELOLAND News has a crew at the scene and will continue to update this story.