Carbondale man found dead in car pulled from Mississippi River

Body found in car that was pulled from the Mississippi River

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A man’s name has been released after his body was found in a car in the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau.

The victim is Curtis Hawkins, 83, of Carbondale, Illinois according to Cape Girardeau County Coroner’s Office. All family have been notified, according to Dep. Coroner David Taylor.

There is still no reason on why he may have driven into the river, according to Taylor.

Crews from multiple departments recovered the car with the man’s body inside on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

According to sergeant Rick Schmidt with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, the man was found in the driver’s seat.

Sgt. Schmidt said right now there are no signs of foul play.

Recovery continues at Red Star Boat Ramp. Missouri State Highway Patrol Underwater Recovery divers are at the scene https://bit.ly/2Igw7eq

Posted by KFVS-TV on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cape Girardeau Police say a witness reported seeing a vehicle with one person inside drive into the river around 9 p.m. at the Red Star boat ramp on Monday, Feb. 11.

A police officer who responded to the scene said he also witnessed the car start sinking then he lost sight of the vehicle due to the fog.

Fire and rescue teams began attempts to rescue the vehicle on Monday evening. They launched a rescue boat into the river, but recovery efforts were delayed until the following morning due to extreme fog.

Battalion Chief Dillow said the fog, rain and reduced visibility caused a lot of issues and made it more difficult to respond to this “unusual circumstance.”

RIVER RESCUE: The rescue efforts continue this morning after a car was seen driving into the water at the Red Star boat ramp in Cape Girardeau, MO. https://bit.ly/2Igw7eq

Posted by KFVS-TV on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Crews used special technology to see under the water surface, which showed a rectangular/square image.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Division Dive Team arrived on scene to recover the vehicle.

Two divers attached cable from a tow truck to bring the car out of the water.

Police say where the car was located, the water was about 17-feet-deep.

Morning water rescue efforts in Cape Girardeau, MO (Source: KFVS)
Morning water rescue efforts in Cape Girardeau, MO (Source: KFVS)

On Tuesday, Feb. 12 recovery efforts resumed around 9:30 a.m.

The weather continued to be an issue.

“You’re dealing with the river and all the different currents, water speed, water temperature, and it’s dangerous,” Sgt. Schmitt said.

At about 11 a.m. officials found what they believed to be the vehicle.

Fire and Rescue crews are at the scene (Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS)
Fire and Rescue crews are at the scene (Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS) ((Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS))

Weather impacted every aspect of the recovery efforts from the start, including the divers.

Lieutenant Mike Petlansky with the Water Patrol Division said the water was 34 degrees and the wind made it feel colder. Divers dealt with limited visibility, black water, and a bit of currant and their hands and heads could feel the cold the most.

“It’s all about the training and the conditioning that the divers do, and we train every month and practice dives every month, so we take it very seriously,” Petlansky said. “We even have masks that we put on, blacked out masks over our scuba masks so we can’t see, and that’s how we train.”

According to According to Cape Girardeau Police Sgt. Rick Schmidt, there is a car in the Mississippi River off of the ramp. (Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS)
According to According to Cape Girardeau Police Sgt. Rick Schmidt, there is a car in the Mississippi River off of the ramp. (Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS) ((Source: Isabelle Hanson, KFVS))

There are no details on the vehicle or the person reported to be inside the vehicle at this time.

The incident remains under investigation.

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