COLUMBIA — Rescue personnel will resume searching at daylight Wednesday for a 20-year-old man who was suspected to have fallen into the Missouri River after he jumped out of the way of a tractor-trailer Tuesday evening on the Interstate 70 bridge near Rocheport, authorities said.
At 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, crews had not located the man, and search boats had been brought in for the night, said Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire Protection District.
The search, now deemed a recovery effort, has been turned over to the Water Patrol and will resume at daylight, Blomenkamp said.
At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, the man fell into the river after the eastbound vehicle in which he and two others were traveling crashed. The car's occupants then got out to survey the damage to the vehicle and see if they could drive it off the bridge, Blomenkamp said.
The other occupants told authorities that the man was then nearly struck by a tractor-trailer and either fell or jumped off the bridge, said Tanya Deckard, an operator with the Cooper County Emergency Operations Center.
Deckard said she did not know the man's name or where he was from. The two occupants were transported to University Hospital where one was treated for an injury, Blomenkamp said. He said he could not confirm the identity of the passengers.
A trooper at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F headquarters said the man's name could not be released until his family had been notified.
About 8:45 p.m Tuesday, rescue crews from the fire district launched boats near Huntsdale to search for the man as well as check the banks near the bridge, Blomenkamp said.
Two fire district boats and one Missouri State Water Patrol boat searched the river and its banks until about midnight. Crews also searched along the Katy Trail under the bridge.
With the Water Patrol reporting water temperatures as being in the low 30s, Blomenkamp said it was likely hypothermia would set in within minutes because body heat is lost about 25 percent faster in water.