Search for Ashdown woman in Red River suspended indefinitely

Search for Ashdown woman in Red River suspended indefinitely
43-year-old Janis Burris Northcross. (Source: Burris family)
43-year-old Janis Burris Northcross. (Source: Burris family)

FULTON, AR (KSLA) - The search for an Ashdown woman missing since an icy traffic accident on Saturday has been suspended indefinitely.

Crews had been searching as weather allowed all week along the Red River near the I-30 bridge in Fulton, AR, where 43-year-old Janis Burris-Northcross was last seen.

Police say she and 2 others were standing on the bridge after icy roads caused a wreck on it. When an approaching 18-wheeler began to jackknife on it, 51-year-old Ricky Norwood jumped over the rail and into the river. Norwood survived with broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Catherine Burris was injured, but remained on the bridge. She was taken to the hospital, treated and released. It's not known for sure whether her sister Janis jumped or was knocked from the bridge, but Norwood says he heard her call for help before he was rescued.

Agents with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and Texas Park & Wildlife Department had been assisting Miller County emergency officials with the search for Northcross, along with Hempstead County's Office of Emergency Management and Arkansas State Police. Dogs and sonar were also used, but strong currents made it unsafe for divers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lowered the level of the Red River earlier in the week to help in the search, but have since reopened the gates to allow levels to rise again when searchers had trouble keeping their boats afloat.

Family members also conducted their own search.

Emergency managers said Thursday that if the woman was not found by the end of the day Friday, crews would evaluate whether to continue. Now, that decision has been made. The Miller County Chief Deputy Dewayne White says they have exhausted all of their available means.

Agents with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission will continue to make periodic patrols for the next 30 to 40 days, and they say family members and outside agencies are free to continue searching. They say they will assist as best they can.

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