Rescuers face frigid conditions on Mississippi River at Muscatine

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Rescue crews braved below-freezing air temperatures and icy water when they were called to search for a possible person in the Mississippi River at Muscatine, Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Transportation reported the Iowa Highway 92 bridge, also known as the Norbert Beckey “High Bridge,” over the Mississippi River was closed to traffic when police were called there at about 9:45 a.m. Friday, December 20, 2013.  Firefighters, emergency medical personnel and divers were among the people sent to search for a possible person in the water.

Conditions on the water challenged first responders, who had trouble getting equipment into the mostly-frozen river near the Muscatine bridge.

The operation went from possible rescue to possible recovery when two hours passed with no victim located.

The air temperature was 28 degrees at the time of the incident.

“We train for situations like this.  We have ice rescue crews that can negotiate out on the ice,” said Muscatine Fire Department Battalion Chief Darrell Janssen.

Janssen said they rotated crews in and out of the rescue operation because of the temperatures.

The bridge reopened to traffic before noon.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, crews had not located a person or body in the water. According to a spokesperson from the Muscatine Fire Department, a search resumed again Saturday at 9 a.m. but was suspended at 4 p.m. due to the impending storm.

There is no word on when a search could resume.