COLUMBUS, Ind. — Updates on the search for a missing 6-year-old boy.
12:45 p.m. — The Humphrey and Sperry families have announced a go fund me account has been set up for the family. To find it, go to gofundme.com/ and type in Brendon Sperry.
The search for Brendon Sperry is continuing, beginning before 8 a.m. and continuing today until he is found, or nightfall, said Jet Quillen, DNR spokesman.
Dogs have been used to search the riverbanks and boats are using sonar to try to locate the boy near where he went in the water at an overlook site at the back of Mill Race Park.
The river current continues to be moving faster than normal, which is complicating search efforts, Quillen said.
Searchers are concentrating on an area just south of a sand bar where the boy was last seen as they believe it is most likely the boy will be found in that area, he said.
11:18 a.m. — Authorities continue to search for Brendon Sperry.
Divers are in the water. A variety of boats from law enforcement agencies have been used for the search, too.
Brendon is the son of Joseph and Amanda Sperry, who moved to Columbus in April. Joseph is a sergeant in the National Guard and is on his way home from Australia, according to Jim Humphrey, grandfather of the missing boy.
About 20 family members are gathered at the overlook area where the boy went into the water.
“I hope for a miracle, but at this point it looks like the miracle is that they find him,” Humphrey said.
Grandmother Brenda Humphrey was among several family members who stayed in a tent in Mill Race Park Thursday night. Jim Humphrey said she didn’t want to leave Brendon by himself.
8:45 a.m. — Law enforcement has resumed the search for Brendon Sperry this morning. However, Mill Race Park remains closed to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, said Jet Quillen, Department of Natural Resources Spokesman.
The focus area of the search is closest to where the boy was last seen, near the river overlook, Quillen said.
Search efforts include three DNR boats with sonar, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department’s air boat and a hovercraft from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department. Columbus police and firefighters, and search dogs from the Department of Homeland Security are assisting in the search.
The river level is down 6 to 12 inches, but the current is still strong, Quillen said.
10:10 p.m. update: The search for Brendon Sperry is suspended for tonight because of the dark and is to resume at between 7 and 8 a.m. on Friday. Mill Race Park will be closed to the public Friday as the search continues.
9:40 p.m. update: The family of Brendon Sperry, the 6-year-old missing after he was swept away by the current in the river near Mill Race Park, said he was a tough kid who loved playing football.
Jim Humphrey, Crawford County, his grandfather, said the boy’s family had just moved to Columbus from Leavenworth, Indiana, which is south of Columbus, and had just visited Aviation Day at the Columbus Municipal Airport on Saturday.
Thursday was to be a fun family day, with Sperry’s mother taking him to play in the water, Humphrey said. Sperry’s father had just deployed with the Indiana National Guard to Australia and has been notified that his son is missing, Humphrey said.
“My little nephew is out there,” said James Peppers, the boy’s uncle. “That’s unbearable,” he said.
Humphrey and Peppers talked with the media at about 8:45 p.m., shortly before the search was to be called off at dark, with it resuming early Friday morning.
Peppers said his niece who is 14 was the one who grabbed on to the boy’s swimming trunks and was pulled underwater, and got scared and let go.
He said the family is doing as best as they can as they await word from searchers.
“Until there’s a resolution, there’s always hope,” Humphrey told reporters. “But at this point we aren’t expecting a whole lot. The prayers help, but right now they’re not going to make a difference.”
9 p.m. update: The boy that searchers are trying to find in a river near Mill Race Park was identified by family members as Brendon Sperry, whose family had recently moved to Columbus. The boy had just completed kindergarten.
5 p.m. update: A search is ongoing for a 6-year-old boy missing in the East Fork White River. A water and ground search is continuing from the river vista and outlook area in Mill Race Park down the East Fork White River to Water Street, which is past the Second and Third Street bridges and around the curve past the downtown area.
The depth of the water where the boy disappeared is estimated at 13 to 14 feet, said Jet Quillen, DNR spokesman. It is unknown just how fast the current is on the river, but because of the recent thunderstorms and rainfall, it is moving more swiftly than normal, Quillen said.
The boy was not swimming in the river when he disappeared, according to Quillen. Searchers believe he was playing on the sandbar and ventured into the water’s edge just a little too far and the current swept him into the river.
In addition to the water rescue teams from DNR and Bartholomew County on the river, Columbus police and firefighters are searching both sides of the river looking for the boy.
DNR is preparing to launch drones from the Bargersville Fire Department as a part of the search. The drones were also used in the last river search of a kayaker who went missing in the Driftwood River earlier this year.
The search will continue until it’s too dark to continue and will resume early Friday and continue until the boy is found, Quillen said.
4 p.m. update: A search continues for a 6-year-old boy who disappeared in the East Fork White River while swimming with his mother and two girls from a sandbar on the river vista and overlook in downtown Columbus. The area is frequently used by fishermen and sunbathers — access is from the west side of Mill Race Park near the restrooms there. It is upriver from the low-head dam that is located near the Upland Columbus Pump House.
The 6-year-old has been in the water for about an hour at this point. A helicopter is doing a tree-line search for the boy and search boats with sonar are on the river searching for him.
Mill Race Park has been closed to the public and media as water rescue teams from the Bartholomew Water Rescue Team, Columbus Fire Department, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and others continue to search.
3:50 p.m. update: Indiana Department of Natural Resources has launched a boat with sonar to search for a missing 6-year-old boy who is believed to be in the East Fork White River. DNR launched its boat from the Mill Race Park boat ramp near the entrance to the park.
3:43 p.m. update: First responders have notified the Indiana State Police helicopter pilot that the child is identified as a 6-year-old boy wearing Spiderman swimming trunks, possibly red. The child is believed to have been in the water for at least a half hour and went into the water upriver from the low-head dam near Upland Pump House. Mill Race Park is now being closed and media are being directed to the entrance to the park to await briefings from searchers.
3:37 p.m. update: Columbus police said the missing child in the East Fork White River is a 6-year-old boy who was swimming with his mother and two other children, both girls, near the sandbar in the East Fork White River which is accessible from the west side of Mill Race Park. The child was not wearing a life vest. The water depth is unknown at this point but officers have noted the current is very swift. Officers have been stationed on the Second and Third Street bridges in an attempt to locate the boy.
3:30 p.m. update: Boats being used in the search for the 6-year-old missing in the East Fork White River are being launched from a ramp inside Mill Race Park near the Mill Race tower.
3:22 p.m. update: An Indiana State Police helicopter has been sent to aid in the search for the missing 6-year-old in the East Fork White River. Indiana State Police are setting up a staging area at the entrance to Mill Race Park.
3:18 p.m. update: The victim is reportedly a 6-year-old child, police said.
3:16 p.m. update: The Bartholomew County Water Rescue Team and searchers are now looking for the individual near the Second Street bridge over the East Fork White River.
Original story: Columbus firefighters and police officers are conducting a water search on the East Fork White River near downtown after a possible drowning was reported in the Mill Race Park area.
The water rescue team was also sent to the area at about 3 p.m. on a report of the possible drowning.
Columbus police officers were asked to go to the Third Street bridge to try to see the individual in the river.
For more on this story, check back here or pick up a Friday Republic.