Did someone ditch a stolen car in the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis Sunday morning? Or was there someone in the vehicle when it went into the river and floated several hundred yards before sinking?
Deputies from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office will resume their search for the missing car at 8 a.m. Monday. Sunday's efforts ended after nine fruitless hours, when authorities called workers off the river and out of the pounding rain shortly before 6 p.m.
At midafternoon, Maj. Darrell Huggett of the Sheriff's Office said if there had been somebody in the gray or silver car, it was no longer a rescue.
The rain and the current, flowing four- to five-times faster than normal rates during the summer months, made it too dangerous to send divers into the water, said Huggett. Two boats towing sonar devices trolled up and down the river for 40 to 50-yards on either side of a buoy that marked the spot where the car was last seen near the 10th Avenue Bridge.
If the car is found, a camera will be used to see if anyone is inside. Then a diver will attach a chain and a tugboat will pull it to the surface.
Huggett said a jogger called 911 at 9 a.m. to report seeing a vehicle in the water. Tire tracks marked the spot where the car went into the river underneath the bridge on the East Bank near the University of Minnesota.
The car floated several hundred yards downstream before a Minneapolis police officer saw it sink nose-first near the Bohemian Flats Park. The water there is 8- to 12-feet deep and about 50 degrees, Huggett said. He said the car could have floated even farther downstream "depending on how it landed" on the bottom.
No one could see anyone inside the floating car, Huggett said. "It's still unknown if it was occupied or not," he said. "We just don't know."
No missing persons reports had been filed Sunday, but detectives were going through recent reports and looking at video footage from the area. Huggett said it was possible thieves had pushed a stolen car into the river.
"That happens pretty frequently in the Mississippi," he said. "But until we know, we have to treat it like there's somebody in the vehicle."