Crews to continue searching Wednesday for man seen struggling on Sugar Creek

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. - Indiana Conservation Officers and Crawfordsville Fire officials have suspended for a third night the search for a man who was seen struggling in the fast-moving waters of Sugar Creek Sunday afternoon.

DNR Law Enforcement Sgt Blaine Gillan said investigators water levels on Sugar Creek had not receded as much as hoped over the course of Monday.  He said search teams would return to the area to continue the search Tuesday morning.

Nothing came up on Tuesday, and crews will continue the search Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m.

During a Monday afternoon briefing, Gillan said investigators had received two calls about missing persons Monday afternoon following news coverage of the search.  Those calls were being investigated by Crawfordsville Police as potential leads, Gillan said.  But as of Monday afternoon, search teams still didn’t know who they were looking for.

Emergency crews were called to Sugar Creek around 2:30 Sunday afternoon after patrons at the nearby Creekside Lodge Restaurant reported seeing a man in his 30s struggling in the middle of the creek.  They said the man floated under the Lafayette Avenue bridge and called for help.  Witnesses said the man appeared to be wearing a dark colored jacket with lettering on the back and khaki colored pants or shorts.

“There was a shoe that was found yesterday in some brush just downstream from the restaurant,” Gillan said.  “But at this time we have no way to link that to a potential victim.”

DNR and Crawfordsville Fire officials were using boats equipped with underwater sonar to search for the man.  Visibility under the water was extremely murky due to the water being churned up by heavy weekend rain, Gillan said.

“There’s a lot of debris, a lot of trees that are down between the restaurant and the US 136 bridge,” Gillan said during a Monday briefing.  “So that’s where we’re concentrating our efforts at this time.”

Gillan said the heavy weekend rain had increased Sugar Creek’s current to three times the normal flow.  The creek was about three feet deep in some spots Monday, but up to ten feet deep in other places, he said.

Even though the creek was not at flood stage, Sugar Creek Campground owner Kim Yager said the conditions were too dangerous to rent canoes or inner tubes to patrons.

“I always tell people you can not underestimate the power of the creek,” Yager said.  “Because any time you get yourself in a predicament, the creek will always win.”

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said some people were known to occasionally camp out under the Lafayette Avenue bridge over the creek, but he was unaware of that happening over the weekend.

“If you know of someone who is missing, please let us know,” Barton said.  “Other than that, just stay out of the way and allow the crews to do their work and continue checking the area.”

Anyone with information should contact the Indiana Conservation Officers Central Dispatch Center at (812) 837-9536.