DELPHI, Ind. – A second day of desperate searching for a small boy playing in a park and carried away by a rain-swollen creek in this small northwest Indiana town turned up no sign of the youth, authorities said Friday.
Delphi Police Chief Steve Mullin said the search has shifted focus from rescue to recovery
The boy was identified as four-year-old Owen Jones from the Monticello area. He was last seen Thursday around 6 p.m. playing in Riley Park near Deer Creek on the edge of Delphi’s downtown.
A 911 call to the Carroll County’s Sheriff Office from older playmates reported he was swept up by the force of the flooded waterway’s current, said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Office.
Authorities deployed sonar-equipped boats and camera-equipped drones overhead. Recent heavy rains had flooded the creek, increasing the normal force of the current.
Lt. Dan Dulin, an Indiana conservation officer, told a press briefing the callers were "older kids — family and friends that were with the boy." He said they attempted to track his movement downstream, but lost sight of the youth before emergency responders arrived.
Authorities said a witness reported seeing the boy struggling in the water. He was wearing a blue sleeveless shirt and blue shorts.
Deer Creek empties into the Wabash River about 1.3 miles southwest of where the boy was last seen. Dulin said recovery efforts were still focused on the creek and have not yet expanded to the river.
"Once the water continues to go down, it's harder to work the boats in the area," Dulin said. "But we're bringing in smaller boats to compensate for that. We'll be on the creek whether it's by foot or by small boat or kayak — we're going to continue to work until we get to a resolution."
Asked how the boys parents, present at the scene, were doing, Dulin said: "They're holding up as best as we could expect. They have a lot of friends and family with them for support. They have their pastor with them. The community has offered a lot of support and prayers for them, and they appreciate that."
News of the incident rocked a Delphi region that’s had to deal with two other tragedies. It is located 75 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
In November of 2016, a house fire claimed the lives of four young sisters — Keyana Davis, 11; Keyara Phillips, 9; Kerriele McDonald, 7, and Kionnie Welch, 5 — in Flora, less than 10 miles from Delphi. The fire has been ruled arson, but no arrests have been made.
Just three months later, the bodies of Liberty “Libby” German, 14, and Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, were found in a rugged, wooded area near the Monon High Bridge just outside Delphi. That murder investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Kevin Burkett is the editor of the Logansport, Indiana, Pharos-Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.