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Officers, firefighters still looking for missing kayaker

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Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters searched the Flat Rock River banks Thursday but did not find the body of a missing 27-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., kayaker.

Columbus Township firefighters joined the Bartholomew County Water Rescue Team in the morning, walking the banks in knee-high rubber boots. Water rescue team boats continued to search on the Flat Rock and East Fork White rivers. Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Special Deputy Jim Ogilvie piloted a helicopter, searching nearby farm fields and the river bank.

The kayaker, Enrique Quinonez, was reported missing at 11:27 a.m. April 6 after he and a friend, Alex Cruz, 27, of Columbus, put their kayaks into the flooded Flat Rock River upstream from the Eighth Street Bridge near Mill Race Center.

They were only in the water a few minutes when Quinonez’s kayak capsized near the bridge in the swift current, said Jet Quillen, Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman. Cruz jumped out of his kayak and pulled Quinonez to a tree, and then grabbed onto another tree. Quinonez lost his grip and went underwater and did not resurface, Quillen said. Cruz swam to shore screaming for help, and a passerby called 911.

The floodwater where the kayak capsized was about 12 feet deep, and neither man was wearing a life jacket, Quillen said. Quinonez could not swim, he said.

On Thursday, firefighters walked both sides of the Flat Rock and where the Flat Rock empties into the East Fork White River looking for Quinonez, sheriff’s department Maj. Gary Myers said. The Flat Rock was substantially lower Thursday, Myers said, increasing searchers’ hopes they could find the victim. Boats will be out on the water over the next several days continuing the search, Myers said.

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