Two presumed dead after rescuing child from Falls - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Two presumed dead after rescuing child from Falls

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Firefighters continue to search for the bodies of two people that jumped into the Falls to rescue a child Thursday evening. The child was rescued and is ok, the man and woman that tried to save him are presumed dead. Ice, foam and 32-degree rushing water are making the recovery difficult for everyone involved.

We spoke with Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras. He says this all started when a 6-year-old boy fell into the falls at Falls Park, around 6:00 Thursday afternoon. A female relative of the boy, who is not his mother, jumped in after the boy. A man who was nearby then jumped into the water after the two of them. At some point soon after the boy was able to get out of the water. It's unclear if the boy was able to climb out on his own, or if one or both adults, pushed him to safety. Soon after both adults went missing in the water and have not been seen since. The boy is with family members and is doing fine.

Sideras tells us this search has been a tough battle. He says there is a strong current, the water is very cold, only slightly above freezing, foam is over 6 feet deep in spots, and there is a layer of ice in some places that is over a foot and a half deep. The water itself can also be 15 feet deep in places. That's why crews from departments all over the city are working together. Sioux Falls Police, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, Parks and Rec, and Public works are all on scene helping.

To fight these obstacles a backhoe is being used overnight to break through the thick ice. That ice is then being removed from the site. Hoses are being used to try to move the foam as much as possible. These steps need to be taken because crews have no idea what's under the water. There could be things under the surface that could put divers in danger. Crews also had to bring in several truck loads of clay to make a platform for the backhoe to sit on. Rescue crews have been trying to lower the current to lower the water at the falls but that creates another problem. The Chief tells us if they don't have all of the ice removed when the lower the water, the ice will lower as well.

We asked if these two missing adults could be further down river. The Chief told us he did position people down river but there is a dam close by on Falls Park Drive that would prevent someone from moving further down stream.

The Chief says search and rescue crews are wearing special exposure suits to keep them as warm and dry as possible. He says these crews do train for this type of situation and these conditions. He says they are also watching crews closely for signs and symptoms of hypothermia. This situation is not only physically draining for crews but it's also emotionally draining. For that reason the Chief says the Fire Chaplain is on scene. He will be a part of debriefing with crews to make sure they know they have someone to talk to about what they did and what they saw during this operation.

Falls Park is closed until further notice. KSFY Morning News will continue to be live on the scene all morning long.

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