Fire & Police

Posted on: March 10, 2017

Officials suspend vehicle search until river conditions improve

River search crews

Emergency officials have decided to suspend the search for a Hyundai sedan, believed to be in the Kalamazoo River, until conditions improve.


After five days spent searching about 20 miles of the river from where the vehicle entered -- in the concrete channel portion off Dickman Road, near Capital Avenue -- west to Morrow Lake, Battle Creek Police and Fire officials, as well as those from neighboring townships and counties who have assisted, agreed to postpone until the river is safer.


Battle Creek Emergency Services Director Mike McKenzie said that could be three to four weeks, depending on spring conditions and rainfall.


Crews started by diving at the convergence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers last Saturday, but could not continue due to the dangerous current in that area. Since then, crews have used underwater cameras in the convergence area -- a main focus of the search -- sonar technology from the convergence to the Clark/Custer bridge area, and a Civil Air Patrol flight west to Morrow Lake, where the Kalamazoo empties.


The vehicle has not been located at this point.


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.

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