Accident Database

Report ID# 3503

  • Unknown
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • High Water

Accident Description

 Search suspended for missing kayaker, dog returns home without him

Due to high water conditions on Big Walnut Creek, boat searches for missing 48-year-old David Pritchett were suspended Wednesday afternoon until conditions improve.

By Dan Shadwell April 20, 2011

Putnamville, Ind.— Pritchett and his dog went missing Tuesday night after launching a kayak in a flooded field near Pritchett's home.

"Obviously these floodwaters, you have to really be careful what you do," Conservation Officer Max Winchell said. "The river's really powerful and our concern is getting pushed up against a bridge abutment or into the trees. It could easily turn over a boat and swamp a boat and then we have rescuers in trouble." The creek is currently at 16 feet, four feet above flood stage. Conservation officers say it has begun to crest in some areas and is expected to continue to fall.

Wednesday afternoon, Pritchett's dog returned home. Pritchett went out in a green kayak with the dog around 6:30 p.m. Family members grew worried when they didn't return and called authorities. The search began around 10 p.m. and lasted until 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. It picked back up briefly after daylight before it was suspended once again due to conditions. Pritchett was last seen wearing a short-sleeve tan button up style shirt, blue pants, and brown hip waders. He was also possibly wearing a yellow life jacket. If the water level drops overnight, the search could resume Thursday.

Search for missing kayaker continues

Updated: Thursday, 21 Apr 2011, 4:00 PM EDT

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The search for a missing Putnam County kayaker continued on Thursday afternoon after the Big Walnut Creek receded.Indiana Conservation Officers began the search for David Pritchett, 48, on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. after family members were concerned and reported his absence when Pritchett hadn't returned from a kayak trip from a flooded field near his home during the heavy storms.

The search ended around 2 a.m. Wednesday and resumed the search later Wednesday morning.Reelsville Fire Department, Greencastle Fire Department, Madison Township Fire Department, and Cloverdale Fire Department began searching the banks of Big Walnut Creek, by foot at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.Officials will be attempting to search the areas that have become accessible by foot. Much of the area is still covered by water, and those areas where waters have receded, are very muddy. They said that conditions are not ideal for the search, but will be attempted due to a short window of opportunity as more rainfall is predicted in the upcoming days. The water level began to drop on Thursday, and is currently at 11 feet. However, as the water begins to leave the fields, it is forced back into the main channel of the stream, increasing the speed of the current. This creates conditions that are unsafe to search the area by watercraft. Officials will continue to monitor the water flow, and hope that by Friday morning current speeds may slow enough to conduct a thorough search of the area.

Pritchett was last seen wearing a short-sleeve, tan, button-up shirt, blue pants, brown hip waders, and was possibly wearing a yellow life jacket. He was using a green kayak and was believed to be heading to Big Walnut Creek, near Putnamville, after the heavy rains Tuesday night.

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