MONROE COUNTY, Ind. – Indiana Conservation Officers continued their third day searching for two missing Indiana University students at Monroe Lake on Monday.
Siddhant Shah, 19, and Aryan Vaidya, 20, were boating with a group of friends on Saturday afternoon when the group decided to anchor the pontoon boat to swim. When both men did not resurface, friends attempted to help but were unable to locate them.
Rescue units searched the area Saturday with scanning devices as well as scuba divers. The search was suspended due to darkness. It picked up again on Sunday and Monday. The Department of Natural Resources said strong winds were making search efforts difficult.
“We have a lot of high-end, high-tech equipment, but a lot of that depends on being in a stable environment,” said Lt. Angela Goldman with DNR. “And with the winds and our boats taking waves back and forth, that’s really skewing some of our sonar data.”
Search boats scanned the waters for hours Monday, hoping to narrow their effort.
“These are always difficult because the person is underwater, so there’s no precise imagery to look for that,” Goldman said.
Goldman said neither of the two IU students were wearing life jackets at the time.
“The number one thing people can do to prevent these types of tragedies is wear that life jacket,” she insisted. “One of the victims was a strong swimmer so that just shows it can happen to anyone and it happens quickly.”
Goldman said divers remain on standby at this point until they can pinpoint the two students’ locations.
“Right now our search area is still too big to just send divers down and start blindly searching,” she said. “You know the water is beautiful on a beautiful day, but once you’re in it, you can’t see but five feet in front of you. So it’s not a situation where we can send divers down and they can just search a whole area.”
In a statement to FOX59/CBS4, the university wrote, “We are deeply saddened by the news that Siddhant Shah and Aryan Vaidya, both students in the Kelley School of Business, are currently missing at Lake Monroe.”
“We appreciate and are thankful for the dedication and work that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, IUPD, and other agencies have put in over the last 24 hours to lead the search,” the statement continued. “Support resources and counseling services are available to IU students through the Division of Student Affairs.”
Search crews said they plan to continue as long as it takes.
“We will continue to search,” Goldman said. “We will continue to search until we find them! Our number one priority is giving closure to the family.”
Goldman said search teams will be back out again on Tuesday early in the morning. She said the team hopes to have more hands on deck, and also bring out some of the tools they were not able to use on Monday, including several sonar devices, an underwater drone, and a cadaver dog.
This story will be updated as information becomes available.