COLUMBUS, Ind. — The body of a missing kayaker was found today in the Flat Rock River, the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department said.
A concerned resident who had met the family of Enrique Quinonez were walking along the bank of the river when he spotted the body about 1:30 p.m., about 100 yards downstream from where Quinonez disappeared after his kayak capsized in floodwater on April 6.
Quinonez, 27, of Kalamazoo, Mich., had been kayaking with friend Alex Cruz, 27, of Columbus during the morning of April 6.
Sheriff's department divers went into the water and found Quinonez underneath a heavy tree in about four feet of water about 15 feet off the shoreline, said Maj. Todd Noblitt, Bartholomew County Sheriff Department spokesman. The body was lodged underneath the tree, nearly perpendicular to it, in water that would have been 11 to 12 feet deep when the flooding was it its highest in the river earlier this month.
The water rescue team, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, sheriff deputies and community residents have been searching for Quinonez since he disappeared in floodwater while kayaking with his friend, Alex Cruz, 27, Columbus.
Cruz, 27, a Cummins Inc., employee and Quinonez, 27, Kalamazoo, Mich., bought kayaks and put them into the flooded Flat Rock River upstream from the Eighth Street bridge at about 11:20 a.m. April 6. They were only in the kayaks a few minutes when Quinonez's kayak capsized in the swift current, in about 12 feet of water. Cruz jumped out of his kayak and dragged Quinonez by his hood to a tree and then grabbed on to another tree. Cruz told investigators he saw Quinonez lose his grip on the tree and slip under the water, not resurfacing. Cruz swam to shore yelling for help and a passerby called 911.
The shoreline near where Quinonez was found has nearly a vertical drop to the water, meaning it was unlikely that searchers could get close to the area from land before today. The area had been searched hundreds of times by boat, said DNR spokesman Jet Quillen, at times using sonar to try to find the body underwater.
In an earlier interview, Quillen had cautioned that it was more likely that Quinonez would be found once the floodwater receded and the current slowed.
For more on this story, see Tuesday's Republic.