(Photo by Ashley Miller)
Although a dive team from Carroll County was put on alert after the incident was reported Wednesday evening, the decision was made not to call them in.
"With the current being what it is in that crazy river, he could be half a mile downriver, or he could be 10 miles," Buena Vista County Sheriff Gary Launderville said.
The 30-year-old man and his two companions were wading in the river about a half a mile west of the Linn Grove dam, when one roamed into deeper water, about up to his neck. Suddenly he disappeared under the water, came briefly to the surface yelling for help, and disappeared.
The men with him searched, and when they could not find him, they drove to Storm Lake to report the victim missing - by then, two hours had passed since his disappearance.
All of the men were Asian immigrants, and there was a severe language barrier, according to Launderville. None of them had a cell phone, and when they tried to go to the bait shop for help, it was closed.
Sheriff's officials called in help from the Department of Natural Resources and searched several miles of the river until about 8:30 Wednesday night, while at the same time dealing with a fire in Sioux Rapids.
This is the first drowning in the area since 2000.
Officials presume the missing man stepped into a sinkhole, or perhaps became caught in underwater debris.
Even when water levels are low, conditions in the river can be dangerous, Launderville said. Over the years, there have been a few drownings in the area and several near-drownings when boaters have been caught in the swirling water near the dam.