Police Recover Body Of Arkansas River Swimmer
SAND SPRINGS, Oklahoma - The Arkansas River current was so swift Wednesday night, troopers say it swept away 36-year-old Kevin Womack.
Police say Womack, his girlfriend and a friend were trying to go from the north side to the south side of the river, which police say is a quarter- to a half-mile across.
The three almost made it when something went wrong.
“According to witness statements, he panicked and got away from the rest of them... the current took him down stream and they couldn't help him,” Sand Springs Police Capt. Todd Enzbrenner said.
Enzbrenner the other two were able to climb out of the water, but due to location and confusion, it may have taken them an hour to make the call for help.
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Search crews, including Osage SkyNews 6 HD and our pilot Will Kavanaugh, were called out to help look for Womack. When the sun went down, the search was called off.
It picked back up first thing on Thursday morning.
“The water's usually not that high,” Enzbrenner said.
The river is up and moving quicker than normal because water is still being released upstream at Keystone Dam due to the summer floods.
Around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers temporary closed the gates to help with the search.
“It lowered the water level. Troopers say within an hour and a half the water dropped a foot and a half,” Enzbrenner said.
Troopers and park rangers looked for signs on the water's surface, while another set of troopers used SONAR equipment to scan under the water.
And just before 2 p.m., “[Womack’s body] was found stuck in a brush pile,” Enzbrenner said.
Womack's body was recovered in about 4 feet of water, 2 miles east of where troopers believe he was carried away near the state highway 97 bridge.