HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Harrisburg fire and river rescue crews spent several hours Sunday searching for a missing woman last seen in the Susquehanna River near the north end of City Island.
Harsh conditions caused them to call off the search.
Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said they don’t have any information about the woman or why she was in the water. An individual who was running on the island noticed the woman struggling to get out of the water about 50 yards from shore and notified police.
As soon as the call came in, emergency responders had boats in the water and a helicopter and drone in the air.
“We spent about an hour and 15 minutes hastily searching for her to no avail,” Enterline said.
That meant the search and rescue turned into a recovery mission.
The water temperature Sunday was only 54 degrees.
“All your efforts of your body go to the core. Your arms and your legs shut down,” Enterline said. “Now you can’t paddle water and you will end up drowning.”
Though the water may look calm on the surface, it’s anything but.
“When we’re looking at sub-surface body recovery and diving we won’t go in anything that’s more than four knots,” Enterline said. “This was moving at six. We kind of did a risk vs. reward benefit and said OK maybe six is OK.”
That fast undercurrent, combined with murky water made it difficult for divers to move around or see anything even after bringing out more weight.
A side-scan sonar in the water had divers focused on one particular area for a while, but determined they were probably just looking at a rock formation.
“It will take a couple of days most likely for us to be able to make that body recovery at that point,” Enterline said. “It may be here in Harrisburg. It may be as far away as Lancaster County. It just depends on the way the river’s running right now.”
This is a developing story. Check back with abc27 for updates when we receive more information.