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A Michigan Wing Civil Air Patrol crew concluded Thursday that there was "no way" a vehicle could have floated west of the Clark/Custer bridge in the Kalamazoo River.
The air search for a Hyundai sedan believed to have crashed into the river near the intersection of Dickman Road and Capital Avenue found no evidence of the vehicle. The crew said they did not find anything out of the ordinary during the flights over the river.
The Civil Air Patrol, part of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, flew a Cessna 182 from the vehicle's entry point off of Dickman Road west to Morrow Lake, where the Kalamazoo empties, near Galesburg. As the river flows, that's about 20 miles.
The crew flew at about 1,000 feet above the ground, making four flights along the entire route. They flew west on the north edge of the river twice, then east along the south edge of the river twice.
The crew concluded that the swampy wetlands and high volume of trees west of the Clark/Custer bridge would not allow a vehicle to float past that point.
This was the fifth day crews searched for the missing vehicle, last seen early Saturday morning on security video footage from nearby TreeHouse Foods. It was floating in the concrete channel of the Kalamazoo where the vehicle appears to have crashed into the river. The search was delayed Wednesday due to the high winds.
Police are investigating whether the driver of the vehicle is 31-year-old Cortez Lewis of Detroit. Lewis has connections in Battle Creek and was reported missing Sunday morning by his girlfriend. He is a black man, 5'9" and 195 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
The bumper found in the river during Saturday's search was determined to be a match to the girlfriend's rented Hyundai vehicle. Attempts to locate Lewis via the location of his cell phone placed him in the area where the vehicle crashed into the river.
Battle Creek, Calhoun County and surrounding township and county agencies have worked together to try and locate the vehicle. After spending four hours on boats with sonar technology Tuesday, crews decided to suspend the search by boat, waiting for river current conditions to improve before sending divers into a deep area at the rivers' convergence where the vehicle could have become stuck. That location was the focus of the search for three days but, due to conditions, use of dive cameras was not able to confirm whether it was there.
Officials continue to work on next steps in the search.
Anyone with information on this should please call Battle Creek Police at 269-966-3322 or Silent Observer at 269-964-3888.