The search continues for two men who vanished Friday during a fishing trip in Miller County, Arkansas. Now, their family and friends talk about the search.
Tuesday was supposed to be the day that Julia Lopez would be celebrating her 30 birthday. Instead, the Texarkana woman is grieving the loss of her father, 60-year-old Bill Cooper of Utah, and her fiance, 57-year-old John Fairbanks of Texarkana.
Police say the two men apparently drowned on the Red River, where their boat capsized. Lopez also was on the same boat but was rescued.
"That is when the boat flipped on top of us, and we were able to get out from underneath the boat," Lopez tells KSLA News 12.
Lopez says it didn't take long before the fast-moving current took the two men under.
"My dad was holding on to me and told me he couldn't hang on any more. But he love me and then he let go."
A wildlife officer best describes their experience.
"It's like a below-the-water tornado, for a lack of better terms," is how Arkansas Game and Fish Officer Jamie Whitaker describes the power of whirlpools on the Red River.
"I actually seen debri and full-size trees come up out of these whirlpools."
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has taken over the recovery effort. Wildlife officers say they will search the river daily for signs of the two men.
Lopez says, "I just want to be able to find them. I just want them to be found so they can be brought home."
Another family member, Jean McKinney, realizes the manpower used in this effort.
"We'd just like to send out a thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We appreciate everything they have done and what they are still doing."
Wildlife officers say they have not set a time to stop their search. The family, meanwhile, is starting a memorial account to help with burial expenses if and when the two men are found.
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