River recovery challenges crews face in finding two year old Hawk Newberry

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Weather conditions and murky waters are making the recovery effort to find two year old Hawk Newberry especially difficult for rescue crews.

“The greatest challenge we’re facing today is the weather with the heat that we have today,” said Rock Island Assistant Fire Chief Bob Graff.

“We want to make sure that crews aren’t getting fatigued and making errors on the water that could jeopardize their safety out there so making sure the guys are staying hydrated so that they can keep their eye on the ball for what they’re trying to accomplish today,” Graff said.

Graff said right now it is an extreme hazard for anyone to be out in the Mississippi river. 

“People have to appreciate the Mississippi as one of the largest rivers in the world,” said Graff. “The amount of debris, the lack of visibility, the mud, things that have accumulated over the years, the current; it’s just an unbelievable safety hazard for us being in the water or for any individual swimming in the river,” Graff said.

As many people are still shaken up and hearts are still heavy at Schwiebert Park, Graff said no recovery effort ever gets any easier but they are working around the clock to bring closure to the family.

“We’re trying to be as efficient as possible without putting anybody else in danger,” said Graff. “We already have a tragedy that’s happened and we don’t want to put anybody else jeopardy or hurt anybody else,” he said.

But as time goes by, Graff said the river conditions will only get worse.

“Once night operations come the risk reward becomes much more risky,” Graff said. “With the nighttime operations we have to make a judgment call depending upon where we’re standing with operations at that time so most of the daylight hour we’ll be out here.”

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