Published 1:33 p.m. UTC Sep 4, 2018
The body of a California woman who was among four people missing after two boats crashed on the Colorado River was found Monday, leaving rescuers searching for two other women and a man. They are presumed dead.
The deceased boater, found around 7:30 a.m., was identified as Christine Lewis, 51, a nurse at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, California. The Mohave County Sheriff's Office said she was located downstream of Topock, Arizona, near the California border.
Lewis recently worked as a charge nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, according to the Visalia Times-Delta, part of the USA TODAY Network.
"We are shocked and heartbroken to learn about the passing of one of our own in this weekend's tragic Colorado River boat crash," said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Delta's CEO. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who knew Chrisi Lewis and to the family and friends still searching the river for their loved ones."
Nine people were injured, two of them critically, when the recreational boats collided head-on and sank around twilight Saturday between Pirates Cove and Topock Marina near Moabi Regional Park.
All 16 passengers, 10 on one boat and six on the other, were either thrown or jumped into the rushing river, which was crowded with holiday weekend boaters. Each of the boats that crashed had a mix of family and friends from out of the area, some of whom were rescued by passing boaters.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anita Mortensen said Monday that investigators had yet to determine what role speed might have played in the accident.
“We haven’t come up with anything on contributing factors yet,” she said. "Once (the missing) are located, then we can continue pursuing that information.”
Citing an emergency dispatcher whose report was broadcast on local TV stations, the Los Angeles Times reported the boats were traveling at around 50 mph when they collided.
More than 60 crew members from Arizona and California resumed their search on boats at sunrise Monday, tracking their progress with a computer program that mapped the riverbed. They headed out again after lunch and planned to continue their pursuit until it grew dark.
Two helicopters searched by air, and divers were sent out into the river’s waters, which can range from shallow to 30 feet deep.
No one on the boats was wearing a life vest, Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster said, adding that use of life vests is not mandatory but is recommended.
The sheriff's office said it would continue to patrol the river "until all the unaccounted for passengers are located.''
Contributing: The Arizona Republic, The Associated Press.