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Dogs brought in to aid search for kayaker

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Cadaver dogs will be used this morning to search sections of the Flat Rock River in the hopes of finding a 27-year-old Michigan kayaker who has been missing since Sunday.

Four or five search dogs and their volunteer handlers from Indiana K9 Search & Recovery, based in Indianapolis, will search from boats for the scent of human remains in the floodwater, said Maj. Todd Noblitt, chief deputy for the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

The dogs are trained to detect human scent in many depths and types of water and will alert searchers if they detect a body, according to the organization’s website.

Bartholomew County Water Rescue Team members and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have been out in boats on the river each day since Sunday morning searching for Enrique Quinonez.

Quinonez, of Kalamazoo, Mich., went kayaking with his friend Alex Cruz, 27, of Columbus, about 11:20 a.m. Sunday, putting their recreational kayaks into floodwater on the river upstream from the Eighth Street bridge, said Jet Quillen, a DNR spokesman. The two had purchased the kayaks Friday in Columbus, and Quinonez had planned to return home to Kalamazoo on Sunday afternoon.

As the two passed under the bridge, Quinonez’s kayak capsized in the swift river near Mill Race Park, dumping him into about 12 feet of water. Cruz jumped out of his kayak and grabbed Quinonez’s coat hood to drag him to a tree and then grabbed on to another tree. Cruz told investigators that Quinonez lost his grip on the tree, went underwater and did not resurface.

Cruz then swam to shore yelling for help and a passer-by called 911. Neither man was wearing a life vest, and Quinonez could not swim, Quillen said.

Searchers have been using DNR sonar since Sunday trying to locate Quinonez. They found a pair of black shorts caught in debris along the river bank Tuesday but have not confirmed that the shorts belong to Quinonez. The missing kayaker was wearing black running shorts and a dark gray lightweight jacket on Sunday when he disappeared.

On, Friday morning, searchers launched two boats into the river using sonar to try to find Quinonez, Noblitt said.

Jim Ogilvie, a special deputy with the sheriff’s department, was piloting a helicopter Friday searching for the victim from the air.

Searchers believe as the Flat Rock River recedes and the current slows, chances of finding Quinonez will improve, Quillen said. The county and DNR have been unable to put divers into the water to search for Quinonez because the current has been too dangerous, Quillen said.

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