Police: Vehicle in Kzoo River possibly linked to missing man

Kalamazoo River, Battle Creek, vehicle search
A team goes to check that a dive magnet is secure on what they believe to be a submerged vehicle and mark it with a buoy. (March 5, 2017)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Police in Battle Creek believe a missing man from the Detroit area may have been behind the wheel of a vehicle that went into the Kalamazoo River.

The vehicle — thought to be a small Hyundai SUV — is believed to have entered the river near Dickman Road, east of Capital Avenue, in Battle Creek around 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

Police received a missing persons report on Sunday morning from the girlfriend of a 31-year-old Detroit-area man who has connections in Battle Creek. He was last heard from early Saturday morning, shortly before the vehicle is believed to have gone into the river.

Crews work to find a vehicle that went into the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek (March 4, 2017).

During a search on Saturday, crews found a bumper that matched the girlfriend’s rented Hyundai vehicle.

Police say a track of the man’s cellphone also placed him in the area where the vehicle crashed into the river.

Video surveillance from a nearby business showed the vehicle in the Kalamazoo River early Saturday morning. Dive teams searched the area for about 12 hours Saturday, but the fast current made it dangerous and difficult to find anything, officials said.

On Sunday, crews brought in a dive magnet which caught on what they believe to be the SUV in a 15- to 20-foot underwater hole near where the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers meet. The magnet was attached to a buoy.

Crews lowered a camera into the water on Monday and saw possible tire treads in the images, according to a release. They hope to take the camera out again and stabilize it better in order to locate the vehicle. After the vehicle is located, crews will try to use a hook to grab it and move it to the river’s bank.

It’s still not clear what caused the vehicle to end up in the river, but police said marks from its undercarriage leading toward the river make them think it couldn’t stop.

Hamblin Avenue is closed from Washington Avenue to approximately the area of the Farm Bureau as crews continue to try to locate the vehicle.