Search goes on

LEHIGH – Emergency response teams continued their search on the Des Moines River for a missing 23-year-old man from Dayton Monday.

The man was last seen at 5:32 a.m. Sunday struggling in the water just south of the Main Street bridge in Lehigh, authorities said.

The identity of the man is not being released at this time per the family’s request.

More than 80 volunteers contributed to the efforts Monday, according to Scott Forbes, Webster County emergency management coordinator.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team from Cedar Rapids, supported by Iowa Homeland Security, joined the effort Monday.

They employed Sound Navigation and Ranging, as well as canine units.

The Story County sheriff’s office dive teams were unable to deploy Sunday or Monday.

“Currently the water is moving too rapidly for the dive teams to enter safely,” Chief Deputy Rod Strait, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, said.

Several concerned citizens gathered on the bridge to watch as search and rescue operations unfolded.

Dennis Hill, of Lehigh, was one of them.

He said many people in the town are close to the man authorities are searching for.

“It’s a real tragedy,” he said. “People in the town are having a hard time. I just hope they find him.”

Lehigh Fire Department is commanding the search operation.

Since Sunday they have been assisted by the Dayton Fire Department, Stratford Fire Department, Dayton Rescue Squad, Duncombe Fire Department, Story County sheriff’s office dive team, Webster County sheriff, Webster County Emergency Management, Webster County Conservation, Webster City Fire Department, Fort Dodge Fire Department, UnityPoint Health Lifeflight, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State Patrol and independent canine handlers from Hardin, Jasper and Polk counties. The Salvation Army is providing care for the rescue workers.

Strait suggested that anybody wanting to donate could send their money to The Salvation Army.

“(Donations) can continue to The Salvation Army to replenish their resources,” Strait said.

He added their support has been very important.

“They spent $100 (Sunday) just on Gatorade,” Strait said. “That’s just one of their resources.”

Forbes said no additional resources are being requested.

The search is anticipated to resume today at 9 a.m.

Peter Kaspari contributed to the content of this story.