Sheriff: Body of missing girl found by divers in river

Rescue workers reported a tragic end to a search for a missing girl Sunday: Two-year-old Emma Sweet’s body was found in East Fork White River not far from where her coat was discovered yesterday.

At a Sunday press conference at the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, her uncle, Bryan O’Neal, thanked the rescue workers for their efforts.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers praised the efforts of the searchers who had been working since Thanksgiving to find the toddler.

She was last seen alive on Wednesday with her father, 39-year-oldJeremy Sweet of Columbus in his Ford F-150 truck. Duck hunters found her father inside of a submerged truck in the river at about 6 a.m. Friday morning near Beatty Lane and Blessing Road. He was suffering from exposure and hypothermia and was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital where he remains in critical condition.

Myers said that the father gave conflicting information to rescue workers, saying at one point that he left the girl at “Casey’s” but it was unclear whether he meant the store or a person’s home. The father also said that after driving the truck into the river, he put the girl on the hood of the truck and she was swept away by the current.

Myers said searchers were convinced that she was somewhere in the river. They searched all day Friday and Saturday, ending the search at nightfall and picking it up again this morning.

Capt. Jet Quillen with the Indiana DNR conservation officers, said that divers found the girl’s body near a debris pile, about half a mile from where her coat was recovered yesterday. Quillen said that river debris acts as a strainer, catching up items and endangering rescue workers.

The exact location where her body was found has not been announced but her coat was found near Southern Crossing, which is County Roads 400S and 450S. People walking along the bank found her coat, Myers said.

The area where the truck was found required going off road and around barriers to cross a steep embankment into the water, Quillen said. Myers said the embankment was 15-20 feet tall.

Myers said that a press conference Sunday was meant to update the public on the search results but the investigation is continuing.  He did not comment on any possible criminal investigation or charges.

The truck was removed from the water yesterday and a quick search of the inside and the area where it was found revealed no information. Investigators are seeking a search warrant to inspect the vehicle in more detail.

Divers from DNR and the Indiana State Police along with the state police helicopter were involved in the search, along with Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department, Columbus Township Fire and Rescue Department, 31 Wrecker, Columbus Regional Hospital medics, and Columbus Fire Department.

Capt. Jet Quillen, Sheriff Matt Myers and Sgt. Stephen Wheeles speak at a press conference Sunday at the sheriff’s department.