Recovery effort underway for missing canoeist

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A recovery effort is underway for a missing canoeist at Riverside Park.

Before 6 p.m., Saturday evening Indianapolis Fire Department received a call about a man who fell in the White River.

According to IFD, a woman at the boat ramp on Burdsal Parkway says her fiancé went canoeing. She never saw him launch nor has she heard from him since. Farther down the river near 21st and Riverside Drive two witnesses tell IFD they saw a man matching the description.

“The couple that was out here said they had been here for about 5 minutes they were taking pictures kind of sitting along the bank. Noticed a capsized canoe in the background of the selfie they were taking,” IFD, Public Information Officer Rita Reith says.

They noticed an adult male in the water trying to swim vigorously. They called out to him; he acknowledged them but couldn’t make it to land.

Shortly after, he went under water and they never saw him resurface. IFD says they located a canoe matching the description near 16th street.

Officials spent two hours searching for the canoeist using divers and sonar technology.

The river was moving too fast making the search difficult for divers. There was also too much debris in the river not allowing sonar technology to work properly.

“At this point, we’re doing everything we can. It’s just that the water conditions aren’t conducive to us getting divers in the water. We’ll do it again tomorrow and maybe we’ll have some more information come up overnight or something like that,” Reith says.

She adds that they believe he may still be in the same vicinity but the water is 8 to 9 feet deep.

IFD, the Department of Natural Resources and IMPD all responded to the scene. They do believe the wind and rain played a factor in the height of the river and current. IFD says they will continue their recovery effort Sunday with DNR.

IFD wants everyone to remember to stay safe when using waterways Memorial Day weekend.

“If you’re going to recreate on the waterways do it within the boundaries of what your skill level is. Make sure you let somebody know where you are going. Make sure you do it safely. Don’t ever combine any water activity with alcohol and just enjoy. Also just know the river.”


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