News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 7, 2014

2nd day of searching for missing teen ends at dam

EDINBURGH, Ind. — Water rescue personnel on Saturday ended a second day of searching for a 17-year-old boy who vanished in the swirling waters beneath a central Indiana dam during a swimming outing that left two of his friends critically injured.

Conservation Officer Jet Quillen said about 30 firefighters and other rescue personnel using three boats were unable to find Jason Moran of Franklin despite some 11 hours of searching the turbulent waters beneath the Blue River at its Edinburgh dam using a drag line and sonar equipment.

Quillen said crews would resume their search for the teen Sunday morning and might send divers into deeper water just beneath the dam if conditions allow.

Moran vanished about noon Friday after he and three other young men swam over a dam about 30 miles south of Indianapolis to try to rescue Sarah McLevish. The 16-year-old McLevish of Morgantown was swept over the dam and became trapped in the waters beneath the concrete structure.

Two of the teens made it out safely. But Moran vanished, and McLevish and 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne were pulled from the waters and remained in critical condition Saturday afternoon at an Indianapolis hospital.

Crews searched for Moran until nightfall Friday and resumed the search Saturday morning.

Quillen said Moran apparently became trapped in the swirling waters beneath the dam on the river, which remains in flood stage. He said the stretch of water above the Edinburgh dam where the five Franklin Community High School students were swimming is a popular swimming and fishing site even though such low-head dams are considered dangerous because they sit low, creating turbulent waters.

Quillen said low-head dams are often called “drowning machines” due to the circular motion of water at their base, an area that’s known as the boil line because water appears to be boiling from turbulence.

“If objects get stuck in that boil line they can be circulated, they go from the surface down to the bottom and then they’re circulated back to the surface and then back down in a circling motion,” he said. “They can be trapped there for days.”

Quillen said Moran’s parents remained at the scene Saturday and were being briefed by authorities.


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