FULTON, AR (KSLA) - The search for an Ashdown woman believed to have jumped or fallen into the Red River to avoid an accident has been suspended until Thursday due to threat of winter weather expected Wednesday.
Search crews resumed the search for 43-year-old Janis Burris-Northcross Monday morning but cold weather halted the search. Temperatures have remained within a few degrees of 30 since Saturday, with water temperatures in the upper 40s. The search was expected to continue until nightfall on Monday, but Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton says weather conditions forced them to suspend the search earlier.
Officials say they will have to wait until the weather improves on Thursday to resume the search. Aside from the discovery of some personal items, there has been no sign of her.
Police say it all started around 2 a.m. Saturday with a wreck on the Red River bridge involving 3 vehicles due to icy conditions. Northcross was 1 of the 3 people who found themselves in the path of a skidding 18-wheeler on the bridge. Northcross either jumped or was knocked off of the bridge by the impact. Her sister, Catherine Burris, managed to stay on the bridge and survived, suffering minor injuries.
51-year-old Ricky Norwood jumped from the bridge to avoid being hit by the jackknifing 18-wheeler, making the 50-foot leap into the chilly waters of the Red River. Norwood is now recovering at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, with broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Norwood says the impact knocked all of his clothes off except for his underwear and socks. "It was so far down there I closed my eyes when I hit the water I didn't know I hit the water until I open my eyes and I was underneath the water. I prayed to the Lord, 'Please let me make it over here,' and I made it to the bank."
Norwood recalls hearing Northcross calling for help, however, after she hit the water. "One time she said,"Help!" but I couldn't get out there."
Authorities believe Northcross also leapt in that terrifying moment. While Norwood says he didn't see if she leapt or was knocked off the bridge, her family insists she did not jump willingly.