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Crews battle rising river levels in search for missing man on Ohio River

What's usually a popular fishing spot, the Newburgh Lock and Dam, has become the scene of a desperate search for 45-year-old Steven Burks of Owensboro.

As crews wrap up day three out on the Ohio River, the search grows more difficult with each passing hour. 

"Its a dangerous place whenever the river comes up," said Brian Maze, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say river levels are more than double normal depth, and rising one tenth of an inch per hour. 

"Just the fast, swift moving water in certain areas along the structure can quickly pull you under, its a situation you don't want to be caught in," said Maze. 

Indiana Conservation Officers and engineers say accidents like this do not happen often, but when they do, high waters are usually to blame. 

The conditions have slowed the search, preventing the use of divers, dragging or sonar equipment. 

DNR Officers say this slows recovery efforts. 

"An average summer drowning most of the time is 3-4 days, with the depth of the water, and the water temperature here, it could be three days, it could be three weeks," said Joe Haywood, Indiana Conservation Officer.

Officers say with the river expected to rise at least another six feet through the weekend, they advise boaters to stay safe, and off the water. 

"Just be aware of the conditions before you go out, look at the water levels, look at especially what the weathers going to be like, and its your responsibility for your safety when you're out there," said Haywood. 

Crews continue to search for Burks, as his family looks on from a distance on shore.

48 year-old Paul Warrenfeltz was also on the boat with Burks.

He was rescued that night and was taken to the hospital.


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