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Erratic river conditions making search for missing teenager difficult in Redwood Falls

A 16-year-old from Redwood Falls was swept away in the Redwood River.
Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 8.44.32 AM

Emergency personnel continue to search for a teenage boy who was swept away by a strong current in the Redwood River earlier this week. 

Wednesday marks the fourth day of searching after the Redwood Falls teen, 16-year-old Thunder Wambade Brothersofall, went missing after swimming with a group in the Redwood River on Sunday evening. 

Redwood Falls Police Department was alerted to the incident around 5:45 p.m. Sunday near the 100 block of West Bridge Street in Redwood Falls, with friends telling authorities that the boy had been swept away in the river. 

"We still have search crews on the ground looking for Thunder," the police department said in an update Wednesday morning. "As weather permits a drone is being used as well. A full ground and air search will take place again tomorrow (Thursday)."

Because of high water levels and an erratic current, authorities are turning away volunteers hoping to help in the search. 

"To date, these offers have been declined for a variety of reasons. First, the search area in and near the river is not very large and we have sufficient manpower within the local emergency service agencies. Second, the river bank – in places – is a cliff face and very high above the water," police said. 

The water levels and rushing current have made it impossible to launch a search boat equipped with underwater search accessories, and the erratic river conditions have also made it unsafe to send in divers.  

Heavy rain last week resulted in a flood warning for the Redwood River near Redwood Falls, and more rain fell overnight and Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service reports that the river had reached a minor flood stage of 8.8 feet on Sunday night, which is nearly three feet above flood stage. 

As of Wednesday morning, the river was at 8.5 feet and expected to remain above flood stage until Saturday, although conditions could change as additional rain is in the forecast in the Friday-Saturday timeframe. 

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