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Man, 26, who fell in Walnut River in El Dorado still missing

The Walnut River crosses U.S. 54 just east of El Dorado.
The Walnut River crosses U.S. 54 just east of El Dorado. Courtesy of Google

The second day of a search for a 26-year-old missing man who was last seen walking Sunday morning across a man-made dam on the Walnut River east of El Dorado was suspended at about 3 p.m. Monday because the water level was again too high to continue.

“Members of the Augusta Water Safety Department Unit arrived, and they were on the water for approximately two hours searching,” said Detective Jeff Murphy of the El Dorado Police Department. “The search was scaled back for the evening. We will have crews there overnight – just keeping the area secure.”

As was the case on Sunday, the water level is high and moving at a fast rate, hampering rescue efforts because of overflow from the El Dorado Reservoir. Murphy said all gates to the lake have been closed by the Army Corps of Engineers to aid in the search.

But still, the water is moving swiftly.

“There is a lot of heavy water flow coming off onto the river,” Murphy said. “It is making it difficult for divers to get into the river because of the hazards of the river and debris under the water. They are going to wait until tomorrow to assess the situation and see if they can’t get divers in.”

Emergency crews began searching for the man shortly after he slipped and fell off the spillway and into the Walnut River at around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, El Dorado police Lt. John Stewart said.

A skeleton rescue crew planned to remain at the scene the rest of the day and evening until a diving crew can be brought in Tuesday if water levels are lower.

“There were boats that were on the river this morning,” Murphy said. “They were out there first thing this morning. Everything came to a stopping point about 3 p.m. today.”

Search crews have included the Augusta Police Department; the Butler County Sheriff’s Office; the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; and the El Dorado Police Department. Search and rescue dogs were also on the scene, as were boats, and a helicopter was called in from the Augusta airport, Stewart said Sunday.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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