Aircraft will help look for car in Kalamazoo River

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) — Aircraft will be brought in Wednesday as crews enter their fifth day of searching for a car believed to have gone into the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek.

City officials said in a Tuesday evening release that the Michigan Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, which is part of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, will scope out the river starting around Capital Avenue and going as far west as possible. If poor weather stops the planes from flying Wednesday, they’ll go up the next day.

The car, believed to be a Hyundai Sonata, is thought to have entered the river along Dickman Road east of Capital Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Authorities have been looking for it ever since.

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

Surveillance video from a nearby business showed it floating backward through the channel. Officials said it may have been carried several miles downriver by a swift current, which was around 20 mph later Saturday. The current has been so fast that it hasn’t been safe for divers to enter the water during the search effort.

Tuesday, according to an evening release, teams in three boats spent about four hours using sonar to search an about 5-mile stretch of water between where the Kalamazoo River meets the Battle Creek River and the Custer Drive bridge, which is as far as they could go.

Police believe a missing man from the Detroit area may have been behind the wheel of the car, based on a bumper found nearby that matched his girlfriend’s rented Hyundai vehicle.

The location where a vehicle is believed to have gone into the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek. (March 4, 2017)

The 31-year-old man was reported missing Sunday morning by his girlfriend. He was last heard from early Saturday morning, shortly before the vehicle is believed to have gone into the river.

Police said the man has connections in Battle Creek, but they did not disclose his name.

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

Members of the Battle Creek police and fire departments, Emmett and Bedford Township fire departments, the Calhoun, Allegan, Van Buren and St. Joseph county sheriff’s office, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have worked together on the search since Saturday.

Kalamazoo River, Battle Creek, vehicle, search
Crews carry a dive magnet to their search area as they look for a car believed to be in the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek. (March 5, 2017)

Sunday, authorities thought a dive magnet may have caught on the car in an underwater hole near where the Kalamazoo River and Battle Creek River converge, but they weren’t able to find it. Officials said conditions prevented the use of dive cameras to check for it.