After long delays, search for kayaker to resume Saturday

Thursday, May 5, 2011

REELSVILLE -- After more than two weeks of difficult weather, the search for a missing Putnam County kayaker is set to resume this Saturday.

It's been over two weeks since David Pritchett, 48, went missing near Big Walnut Creek. Since then, a series of storms, high water levels and flash floods around the creek have limited the ability to look for him.

"It's been most frustrating telling his family that we're not able to search," said John McPherson, Reelsville fire chief. "They've been very understanding but if the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn't like it."

"It's been over two weeks since he went missing, we need to bring closure to the family," he said.

After having to cancel a search scheduled for last Saturday because of rain, McPherson said that he was pretty confident announcing this search. He said that rain wouldn't be an issue, unless there was another flash flood.

McPherson said that all of the people who committed to search last week will be taking part in this Saturday's search. That includes members of local fire departments, volunteers from around Putnam County, cadaver dogs, Indiana Conservation Officers and members of Indiana Air Search and Rescue. The search will involve boats from the Conservation Office and vehicles.

McPherson said he hoped to cover around 10.5 miles of waterfront land, extending into Clay County and onto SR 42. The search will begin at 9 a.m. at the Reelsville Fire Department with volunteers getting assignments for different areas to search.

"We'd really like to take a pretty big swing and really do some intensive searching," he said.

McPherson acknowledged that the weather has been frustrating in conducting the search for Pritchett

"It just seemed like every time we'd get ready to do a search, it would rain so much it would flood out or there would be a flash flood or something," he said.

"I don't remember another time where we would have two days of sunshine and then a flash flood then two days of sunshine and a flash flood," McPherson said. "It just gets so frustrating, but we can't not be safe."

Pritchett launched his kayak at 6:30 p.m. April 19 in a break between two storms. His family reported him missing around 10.

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