Searchers converge on Columbus river looking for missing kayaker

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COLUMBUS, Ind. (Apr. 6, 2014) — Efforts to find a missing kayaker in Columbus ended late Sunday night, but crews continued the search Monday.

Indiana conservation officers say Enrique Quinonez, 27, of Kalamazoo, Mich., was kayaking with his friend on the Flat Rock river when he disappeared after his kayak capsized.

Members of the search teams had a general idea where to focus their efforts. The boats went up and down the stretch of the Flat Rock River near Mill Race Park as other searchers stayed on the river’s edge.

“In my experiences, when someone goes under, they usually go to the bottom. There’s a lot of debris and a lot of obstacles they could get caught on and more than likely if he was not able to make it out, he’s going to be confined to the area where he went under,” said Jet Quillen, an Indiana conservation officer.

Quinonez and his friend Alex Cruz had just put the kayaks they bought on Friday into the river. Quinonez’s kayak capsized, so Cruz jumped in to try to save him by pulling him to a tree. Somehow, Quinonez let go and disappeared in to the brown, murky water. That is when Cruz started screaming for help, which a passerby heard and called 911. Searchers quickly converged on the area, but their efforts yielded no results. There were some obstacles they had to deal with as well.

“High water, fast-moving water, it’s a hazard to any first responder because you can’t risk their lives and put them in danger to enact a rescue. You can assess the scene, and if you think it’s worth it, you can go for it,” said Quillen.

In this instance, however, dive teams didn’t go in to the water because of those dangers.

In the meantime, loved ones are left wondering what happened. FOX59 has learned Quinonez has family who lives in South Florida as well as a fiance. We did reach out to Alex Cruz, but he was too upset to talk. Search efforts will resume once there’s enough daylight.

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