UPDATE: Officials shift to recovery mode in search for missing boater
The search for a 55-year-old Ponca, Nebraska man who's been missing in the Missouri River is considered a recovery effort.
Authorities say Steven Bevelhymer fell in the water while fishing Saturday morning and never resurfaced.
For the third straight day, a giant barricade is blocking access to the boat ramp at Ponca State Park.
That doesn't mean the boats aren't on the water. One by one, several state and local agencies are riding in and out of the area to find Bevelhymer after he fell overboard while fishing early Saturday. Officials say he had trouble with an anchor
"Wasn't able to hold it very well," said Tom Zimmer, Northeast District Supervisor for Law Enforcement with Nebraska Game and Parks. "Was getting pulled into the water. The other person in the boat grabbed him to help him stay in the boat. They both were pulled into the water."
Crews have been working during all daylight hours, using sonar and boats with drags, trying to find Bevelhymer in these, deep dark waters.
"There was current, yes, and the water was probably 10 to 12 foot deep in that area," said Zimmer.
Officials say after Sunday's session finished, the search officially changed from a rescue operation into a recovery.
One of the biggest changes in the recovery efforts along this long, winding river was replacing the team of search dogs with dive team from Yankton.
"There's brush, there's snags, everything else in the bottom of that river channel. So, it's just a slow process," said Zimmer.
The shift in personnel came because the dogs had done their job, narrowing the search field to a two mile drag.
"These dogs just work on scent and also coming off of the water as well," said Zimmer. "So, they searched along the water and the shorelines."
Officials say the weather is also making the search difficult.
"Water temperature is fairly cold. It's in the low 50s right now. So, that's making things difficult as well," said Zimmer.
But they'll keep going until the body is found.
Authorities say dive operations were temporarily suspended Monday because river conditions became unsafe. They say Bevelhymer was last seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
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