An air search for a Hyundai sedan believed to have crashed into the Kalamazoo River found no evidence of the vehicle Thursday morning.
The Civil Air Patrol flew from the convergence of the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers west to Morrow Lake, where the Kalamazoo empties, near Galesburg. The crew used cameras and flew low, around 900 feet, to search for the vehicle. As the river flows, that's approximately 20 miles.
This was the fifth day crews have 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, off Dickman Road, east of Capital Avenue. 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, 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. 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.
If anyone sees something unusual in or around the river, please call Battle Creek Police at 269-966-3322 or Silent Observer at 269-964-3888.