A search was expected to resume this morning for a missing kayaker who authorities believe went into the river near his Taylorsville area home.
Barthol-omew County Sheriff’s deputies and Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers spent Thursday combing the Driftwood and Flatrock rivers using drones and an Indiana State Police helicopter in efforts to locate 26-year-old Keygan Matlock.
Matlock, of 3950 Deer Court in Tannehill Park, a mobile home community west of Taylorsville, is believed to have launched his 6-foot-long commercial grade fiberglass kayak late Wednesday morning into the Driftwood River near his home, in the vicinity of Heflin Park.
The kayak was originally blue, but was modified by Matlock with yellow and black paint as camouflage.
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Drones were deployed in the air at 5:15 p.m. Thursday to a flooded area behind Westhill Shopping Center in Columbus after a third-party caller claimed to have seen an upside-down watercraft there. However, the drones were unable to locate the craft, said Jet Quillen, DNR conservation and public information officer. The search was scheduled to conclude at dusk Thursday and resume at 8 a.m. today, he said.
Kayaker sighted Wednesday
Sasha Rose, who lives on County Road 330W just south of Taylorsville, told conservation officers she thinks she saw Matlock on Wednesday, sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., in his kayak on the Driftwood, passing by her home.
The stay-at-home mother of six said her family’s home has windows facing the river and had already seen a deer attempting to swim across the river when Matlock came into view.
“I opened my door and yelled at him,” Rose said. “I said ‘Dude, what are you doing?’”
She then yelled at him to be careful, which he assured her he would do as the swift-moving current carried the kayak quickly downstream.
“He was really happy,” Rose said of her brief interaction with Matlock.
“He seemed to be having fun. The kayak was already going sideways but he didn’t seem to mind,” Rose said. “He had his paddle and he was cruisin’. He was going fast.”
Rose doesn’t think Matlock was wearing a life jacket, but saw a bright yellow construction jacket that had reflection tags on the back, which looked somewhat like a life jacket, she said.
Searchers moved their base of operations south, closer to Rose’s home, after talking with her. They believe Rose may be one of the last people to see Matlock before he disappeared.
Matlock is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing the construction jacket with “C-tech” on the back, and a black-and-yellow stocking cap.
The search for Matlock is the sixth reported water-rescue incident in Bartholomew County since Wednesday morning, the sheriff’s department said.
At Matlock’s home, family and friends gathered Thursday and some set out later to do ground searches of their own, with the permission from the DNR.
Before talking to Rose, investigators said they were unsure just whether Matlock had actually launched his kayak on Wednesday, and which river he used — the Driftwood or the Flatrock.
Searchers initially only knew Matlock’s vehicle was at his Taylorsville home, but his kayak was not, Quillen said.
Carson Yoder, Matlock’s stepfather, said Matlock had told his younger brother he had been thinking about taking the kayak out.
Yoder said he and his stepson have enjoyed kayaking together, and he had impressed upon Matlock that it was not a good idea to be going out Wednesday based on the temperature of the water and that the river was up to 15 feet deep.
Yoder said he thought Matlock may have been fooled by the seemingly calm appearance of the Driftwood behind his home, thinking the water was not that dangerous.
“It doesn’t look dangerous here, but it’s not like that further out,” Yoder said, referring to the swift-moving current and high water moving through Columbus.
Matlock also violated a rule that Yoder had instituted that the two would never kayak alone.
“I’m kind of shocked he went ahead,” Yoder said. “I thought maybe he had just gone to one of his friends. He’s a free spirit. He’s kind of tough to tie down.”
The stepfather and stepson had made several kayaking trips together, including at night, over the past three years Matlock has had the kayak, his stepfather said.
Yoder said Matlock did have a cell phone, which pinged Wednesday to a cell phone tower around Tellman Road near Indianapolis Road, an area that has been closed because of flooding. However, investigators said they were unable to locate the phone’s specific location as it was a non-contract phone that could only be traced to a general location.
Quillen said the search for Matlock had to be initially conducted by air, since it was too dangerous for water-rescue crews to enter the Driftwood River, which was 4.5 feet above flood stage. The conservation officer said a lot of debris is floating down the river.
Two DNR drones and two others from Wayne Township and Indianapolis fire departments are being used in the search, Quillen said. The Indiana State Police sent a helicopter to aid in the air search, which traveled as far south as Azalia, but did not find anything, he said.
The DNR is hoping that Matlock could be clinging to a tree, or is with his kayak somewhere on the river, Quillen said. Family and friends were also holding out that hope, too, fanning out along county roads and farm fields looking for him Thursday afternoon.
Matlock, who was not currently employed, attended Taylorsville Elementary, Northside Middle School and Columbus North High School, his family said.
He is the father of 6-year-old daughter Marley with girlfriend Kyla Heslop, the family said. They are expecting a second child in about nine weeks.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Kegan Matlock of Taylorsville, who was last seen on Wednesday, is asked to call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources law enforcement division at 812-837-9536.