UPDATE: LCSO temporarily suspend underwater search efforts

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. - UPDATE: The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says they are temporarily suspending their underwater search efforts.

Sheriff Jerome Kramer says crews have done all they could up to this point.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission searched Wednesday morning using their sonar boat.

They are searching a perimeter of about 5 acres but have had no luck due to the amount out of debris and dead vegetation that is underneath.

The Lincoln County Dive Team searched all day Tuesday, searching as deep as 90 feet but have had no success either.

Sheriff Kramer says they have done all they could up to this point, now they are just waiting for the body to surface.

"They've covered the bottom. But when you got one person going back and forth, if they are off the grid by six feet, they could easily miss. So there is a probability, just based on what we have from witnesses, that he is probably not buried in sand," Kramer said.

Crews with Western Engineers are currently building up the dike to stop the water flow from going into the sandpit.

So far they have used 4,000 tons of rip rap.

They hope to have the sandpit completely sealed off by Thursday.

North Platte Community College Knight's Basketball Coach Kevin O'Connor says he is devastated by the tragic accident.

He says he's been in contact with family members.

Coach O'Connor who is going on his thirty second year of coaching says, "there are students you will always remember and Samson is one of them. He was just a great, neat kid."

Recovery efforts for 19 year-old Samson Charles of Tanzania are still ongoing near the sandpit by the North Platte River.

The search resumed at 9 a.m. on Tuesday when the Nebraska Game and Parks entered the water with their sonar boat.

The Lincoln County Dive Team has also been on site and found nothing.

Crews said that the fast current, along with the depth of the sand pit, is making the search difficult.

The sandpit is between 50 to 80 feet deep.

Crews with Western Engineer are currently building up the dike to slow down the current.

"A lot of the problem is the amount of floating of debris in there due to the river coming into the pit and going out the south end and wait for the water levels to equalize in the pit and in the river. The current is always bad and so the key is getting that current reduced. The divers can't fight the current. This current is nothing like we dealt with last year but still it is hindering this recovery effort," said Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer.

Charles was kayaking with two other friends when the current pushed him into the sandpit capsizing his kayak.

None of them were wearing life jackets.

"This situation could've very been much avoided. This opening should've never been forced in here by the Army Corp of Engineers to allow access to this sandpit. It should've been blocked off from the 2011 flood," Kramer said.

In learning of Samson’s accident, Dr. Jody Tomanek, Vice-President of North Platte Community College said, “This is a sad and tragic day for NPCC and the Knight’s athletic program. In the short time Samson was with the College, he made a huge impact on the students, faculty and staff. Samson always had a smile on his face and he will be greatly missed.”

July 12, 2016 12:00 p.m.
A search and rescue mission is now a recovery mission on the North Platte River, east of North Platte. At this hour, the dive team is in the water, looking for a presumed drown, 19-year-old college student from Tanzania.

Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer says the Army Corps of Engineers will arrive Tuesday afternoon, and they will try to reduce the inflows into the river, and reduce water speed down the North Platte River.

A press conference is planned for Tuesday afternoon.

July 11, 2016
A person is missing in the North Platte River near the North Platte Airport.

Friends were kayaking on the river and when they approached the sand banks near Western Engineering by the Highway 30 Bridge, one of the men's kayaks tipped over.

Officials say friends called 9-1-1 because they couldn't find the third person in their party.

Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer says the water was very shallow but the sand beneath it was very deep.

The Lincoln County Dive Team was on the water for a brief time Monday but was unable to locate the body.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Lincoln County Dive Team and the North Platte Fire Department were all on scene.

The search will continue Tuesday with help from Nebraska Game and Parks Sonar Equipment.

Authorities fear that the man's body could be covered with sand.

Read the original version of this article at www.knopnews2.com.