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Man goes missing in St. Joseph River Saturday morning, DNR asks for help

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Department of Natural Resources officers are looking for a man that went missing after going into St. Joseph River Saturday morning.

A 911 call came in at six twenty one this morning, saying a man had went into the river, according to the DNR.

Sgt. Ashlee Jackson with the DNR said the man, Donnie Lewis, 41, and two others were just hanging out here where the East Race meets St. Joseph River.

“They were hanging out this morning,” Sgt. Jackson said. “When the victim who we believe entered the water to retrieve a pair of shoes that were thrown in.”

According to the DNR, he entered the water to get the shoes, but officers say they’re not sure if he ever made it back to shore. The DNR said he slipped and was swept further into the river by the current.

A witness told the DNR that they saw Lewis struggling in the water, but did not see him make it to shore. The department said they are treating this as a missing person’s case.

Rescue teams were on scene this morning checking areas near the river downstream of the east Race.

Sgt. Jackson said this morning the current was moving at about five to six miles per hour.

“The water has a force behind it,” Sgt. Jackson said. “You can easily get tangled underneath stuff that’s floating in the river – tree branches, garbage, debris any of that kind of stuff.”

Officers are using sonar and similar equipment to search the river. Sgt. Jackson said if someone is in the water it could take days before they surface.

And as the search continues, the DNR urges folks to call Indiana Conservation Officers’ central dispatch center at 812-837-9536 or South Bend Police Department at 574-235-9201 with any more information that could help find this man.

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