DES MOINES, Iowa -- A man went into the Des Moines River to free a boat from debris Monday afternoon, but never returned from the water.
First responders recovered the boat but did not find the man, who was last seen in the water around 2 p.m.
The Des Moines Fire Department's Water Emergency team put boats in the river to look for the man, but did not find any trace of him. Brian O'Keefe, Public Information Officer for the fire department, said the boat the man was seen in the vicinity of a homeless encampment.
"They say he was actively trying to get the debris off the boat. Why he jumped into it or rode it or got into it to float downstream, but they said it was afloat. He was in it, and then he made it down to that floatation or the cable, and then I don't know if he jumped or fell or pulled, but he got separated from the boat."
Fire officials say the man was trying to dislodge a small boat that was pinned in the rocks and that he got it pushed off and began floating downstream in the boat. The man then reportedly stopped at one of the buoys, where there are emergency cables that swimmers or boaters can grab onto in order to prevent them from going over the Scott Street dam. Officials say the man was encouraged to head to shore, but he was not able to make it back to land.
When he went under the the Scott Street Bridge, the eddy or the boil pulled him underwater. He surfaced one time after that and then he went back underneath. The boat then traveled downstream--without him--to the Harriet Street boat ramp access.
Officials say there were life jackets in the boat that was recovered. Anyone with information about the man or the incident is asked to contact local authorities.