Crews searching Miss. River for person who fell from barge

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Crews are searching the Mississippi River near Blytheville after a man fell from a barge at Kinder Morgan, according to police.

Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook told Region 8 News that the man, identified as Jerry Hooper, fell into the river at Hickman, east of Blytheville, Saturday night.

According to Cook, the incident took place at approximately 8:00 Saturday night. A deputy wrote in his incident report that multiple employees at Kinder Morgan began looking for Hooper.

When deputies and the rescue squad arrived, employees found Hooper, unconscious, in the river. As they tried to pull him into a boat, he slipped out of his life vest.

Hooper has not been seen since and his family has been notified of the situation.

Cook said the Mississippi County Rescue Squad and U.S. Coast Guard called off the search around 7:30 p.m Sunday, however company personnel are continuing the search.

He told Region 8 News that weather has played a role in the search effort. Crews were not able to quickly put in their boats due to having no access to boat ramps along the river, which is in flood stage. Cook also said there was heavy snow in the area at the time of the incident.

Deputies stated that Hooper was cleaning when the incident happened and two people witnessed his fall.

Cook said crews have been searching the river from Hickman to Osceola in search for Hooper.

On Monday, Jan. 11, a spokesman for the company, Richard Wheatley, released this statement.

"We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Blytheville search and rescue group who began to participate in the search on Saturday night . We remain hopeful that the man will be found."

On Jan. 11, Kinder Morgan personnel continued to search for Hooper using 4 tug boats and 1 crew boat.

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