A South Dakota river rescue attempt last night has since turned into a body recovery mission early this morning after two people are presumed to have drowned.
A 6-year-old boy was climbing on rocks when he slipped and fell into the Big Sioux River. A female relative, presumably his sister, jumped in to save him but was swept away by the rapidly moving water. A man jumped in to save them both, but he was swept away as well.
The boy was rescued not long after falling in. It is unclear whether someone pulled him out of the water or if his body was pushed ashore.
One man reported getting a grip on the man who jumped in. He and two others attempted to pull the man ashore, but he slipped away. Both the man and the women who jumped in are now presumed dead.
Bystanders were both in awe of the people who dove in immediately and struck by a feeling of being powerless to help. Early this morning, local crews transitioned from seeking to rescue the victims to recovering their bodies. Few expected anyone to survive the deadly mix of rushing water and frigid temperatures.
The water remains obscured by high-rising foam caused by the proximity to a nearby waterfall and the presence of chemicals. The foam reached as high as six feet in some places last night and made it nigh impossible to see anyone or anything floating underneath.
Sioux Falls rescue workers have attempted to reduce the amount of foam masking the river using blowers, but they have not had any luck discovering the bodies. The river remains covered by thick floating sheets of ice, which crews have hacked away at using a backhoe.
The Big Sioux River flows into the Missouri River from the north and forms the boundary between South Dakota and Iowa. The river crosses a waterfall at Sioux Falls, SD, giving the city its name.