BATTLE CREEK, MICH. - The search in the Kalamazoo River for a missing car and driver, already hampered by high water and fast currents, is being delayed Wednesday by high winds.
Pilots from the Michigan Wing of the Civil Air Patrol had planned to fly over the river Wednesday, but won't be in the air until at least Thursday because of high sustained and and gusting winds.
Several police and fire agencies have been searching since Saturday morning for Cortez Lewis, 31, of Detroit, who frequently visited Battle Creek, and was believed to be driving a 2017 Hyundai that was reported in the river. Another motorist told Battle Creek police at 4:44 a.m. that he saw the car pass him on Dickman Road just east of Capital Avenue and then plunge into the concrete channel carrying the Kalamazoo River.
Video from Treehouse Foods Inc. at 150 S. McCamly St. shows lights from a car passing the plant in the channel.
But after four days of searching neither the car nor Lewis has been found.
On Tuesday several boats, some with sonar, traveled the river from the confluence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers just west of Washington Avenue to the bridge at Custer Drive without finding the car or further evidence of it.
Crews decided Tuesday evening to suspend the search by boat but had hoped to have a plane fly over the river on Wednesday
However the city said early Wednesday that winds of up to 35 mph with gusts expected to be higher prevented the air search.
Most of the search was concentrated for three days in the area of the rivers' confluence, where levels of water are 20 feet deep and the current was estimated at up to 30 mph.
Because it was unsafe for divers to be in the water, crews in boats used poles and an underwater camera looking for the car but by Tuesday evening several of the searchers, including Battle Creek Emergency Services Director Mike McKenzie, concluded the car was not there.
Some still believe the vehicle may be in that area and the conditions are just so unfavorable that searchers can't find it. The city said Wednesday once river levels drop divers may be used to continue exploration of that area.
Dive teams from Calhoun County, Kalamazoo County, Allegan County and Van Buren County have been assisting the Battle Creek Police Department, Battle Creek Fire Department, Emmett and Bedford Township firefighters and the Calhoun County Sheriff Department in the search.
Anyone who sees what they believe is a car is asked to call Battle Creek police at 269-966-3322 or 269-964-3888.
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Contact Trace Christenson at 269-966-0685 or firstname.lastname@example.org with information about crimes. Follow him on Twitter: @TSChristenson
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