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River search to continue today for missing man

Searchers looking for the body of a man who may have jumped from the Kennedy Bridge into the Red River were stymied again Thursday, despite bringing a specially trained dog onto the water, said Cpl. Thomas Inocencio of the Grand Forks County Sher...

Searchers looking for the body of a man who may have jumped from the Kennedy Bridge into the Red River were stymied again Thursday, despite bringing a specially trained dog onto the water, said Cpl. Thomas Inocencio of the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department.

Inocencio said boat crews attempted to use a "cadaver dog" from South Dakota to aid their search for Delano Gaking, 19, but the wind prevented the animal from picking up a scent.

"When a body is underwater and begins to decompose, there's a scent that emanates to the surface," Inocencio explained.

Early Tuesday, a motorist crossing the bridge that links Grand Forks and East Grand Forks saw a man on the outside of the railing, and when the motorist looked back, the man was gone.

Gaking reportedly left Riverside Manor, a Grand Forks apartment building just south of the bridge, after an early morning argument with a friend who he was staying with. In responding to a call from the motorist, police found some of Gaking's belongings on the bridge. No one reported actually seeing anyone drop from the bridge into the water 25 to 30 feet below.

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Boat crews have searched as far as a half-mile downstream of the bridge, but they've mainly been looking just below the bridge, using sonar and drag hooks. Inocencio said searchers will employ similar tactics today, but one less boat crew will be utilized. Searchers will also try to use a dog again today, he said.

Inocencio, who leads the Sheriff's Department's water-rescue team, said strong winds have created difficulties for searchers trying to control boats and use sonar systems. But he said the greatest obstacle is the depth of the water; below the bridge, it's about 37 feet deep.

The river level has dropped since the search began and is expected to keep declining. According to the National Weather Service, the river level was at 29.55 feet, 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, and was at 26.9 feet, 4:30 p.m. Thursday (28 feet is considered flood stage). It's forecast to fall below 24 feet by Wednesday.

With the river going down, Inocencio said, searchers will be looking to see if a body drifted to the shore or became hung up on debris. Under the right circumstances, authorities say, a body would rise to the surface within a week to 10 days given the river's water temperature.

Inocencio said he expects today's search to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If a body is not found as time goes on, the search will gradually be scaled back to periodic checks of the river, authorities say.

Anyone who spots anything unusual along the river is asked to call authorities.

Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to aingersoll@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: RED RIVER
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