UPDATE: Search to resume Wednesday morning for man who fell into Missouri River

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | 12:37 a.m. CST; updated 9:38 a.m. CST, Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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.


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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.

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Bob Mitchell December 17, 2008 | 6:16 a.m.

Well, this is very sad that this guy tries to save his own life, but to almost get hit by a 18 wheeler? Te question now is, what happened to the truck that almost hit the guy? Did they get a license plate number? I feel for the other people that were close by, and our prayers go out for the family of this young man, that the authorities will find him, and before it's to late.
Lord Jesus, Please comfort and be with this family we pray, Amen!

(Report Comment)
Fred Miller December 17, 2008 | 9:49 a.m.

As someone who's driven over a million safe miles in an 18-wheeler, I see no evidence that the driver could be at fault if he didn't hit anything. He's not allowed to stop on a bridge to render assistance, either. The best he could do would be to move on if he didn't hit anything. Unfortunately, many survivors in a situation like this see most clearly the $5 million insurance limit on trucks.

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