Searchers used sonar on the Missouri River on Wednesday morning to look for a car after it drove into the water from a boat ramp in English Landing Park in Parkville.
It was unclear whether someone was in the car when it went into the river. The park was closed Wednesday morning while authorities investigated.
The car went into the river shortly after 2:15 a.m. Wednesday. A sergeant and officer with the Parkville Police Department were on Main Street by the park when they noticed a car approach on South East Street faster than what is normal, said Police Chief Kevin Chrisman.
The car turned on McAfee Street and entered the park. One of the officers positioned himself at the entrance of the park.
“A lot of times, people get lost, they turn around and they’re going to come back out,” Chrisman said. “About 45 seconds or so, the car didn’t come out, so he proceeds down into the park to see what they are doing.”
The park is closed from midnight to 5 a.m. However, permits are commonly issued for night fishing during those hours.
“As he is approaching the boat ramp in the circle drive, his headlights shined upon a car that’s in the river,” Chrisman said. “He got out of the car, summoned help and started following it with his flashlight as it was going down the river, and then it submerged.”
Because of the darkness, it was difficult to see if anyone was inside the car before it submerged, Chrisman said.
Rescuers from the Kansas City Fire Department and Southern Platte Fire Protection District responded and entered the river from the boat ramp at nearby Platte Landing Park.
Sonar searches located what they believe is a submerged car in the area where the officer last saw the car above water.
A police dog from the Kansas City Police Department searched the park for signs of anyone there but didn’t detect a scent, he said.
After sunrise, the Missouri Highway Patrol searched that area of the river again using sonar and found what is believed to be a car in the same location.
The Missouri Highway Patrol was coordinating with its underwater team to help remove the car from the river. Chrisman said the team is expected to arrive Friday morning.
“We are kind of at a standstill now until we get the car out and determine what we have,” Chrisman said.
Earlier this year, University of Missouri-Kansas City student Toni Anderson’s body was pulled out of the Missouri River after her vehicle apparently drove off a boat ramp in Platte Landing Park into the water.
Anderson was reported missing in mid-January, and she and her vehicle were found in March.
Her mother, Liz Anderson of Wichita, said the most likely explanation is that her daughter became confused in the early morning and ended up at the boat ramp in the park.