POSTED: 11:27 a.m. CDT September 1, 2003
UPDATED: 8:29 a.m. CDT September 2, 2003
EMPORIA, Kan. --
workers continued their search Monday for two people who
disappeared late Saturday after a floodwaters swept across the
Kansas Turnpike, tossing vehicles from the interstate and killing
at least four children.
covering all the angles and we're hoping for the best," said Mark
Davis, the Chase County fire chief.
Still missing were Al Larsen, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Melissa
Rogers, of Liberty, Mo., whose four children -- all under 10 years
old -- were found dead Sunday morning, three of them still
strapped into the mangled minivan.
Their father and Rogers' husband, Robert Rogers, had tried to
free his children from the family's minivan as it filled with
water Saturday and floated away from the interstate. At a news
conference, a composed Rogers described what happened.
children were screaming ... terrified. My wife, Melissa, and I
agreed that our only chance of escape at that point was through
the driver's side window, which we'd already cracked open in the
event that we might submerge," Rogers said. "I kicked out the
window and was instantly sucked into the raging water."
Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Conboy identified the Rogers children
as Makenah Rogers, 8; Zachery Rogers, 5; Nicolas Rogers, 3; and
Alenah Rogers, 1. Makenah was found about three-quarters of a mile
from the van.
The focus of Monday's search was a reservoir two miles south of
the turnpike behind the Jacob Creek detention dam, which weekend
rains swelled from a normal 33 acres to about 90, Davis said. More
than 50 people, in boats and walking the shore, were working their
way from the earthen dam back toward the turnpike as the water
slowly began to recede.
Around noon, divers began searching a few areas of the
reservoir where dogs from the volunteer Kansas Search and Rescue
Dog Association had sensed somethings, authorities said.
"He knew his family was still in the van with the water,"
Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Marc McCune said. "It's the most
helpless feeling I've had in my life."
"God is God and I am not. The biggest question we have right
now is why? We don't have the answer," Rogers said.
Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Conboy said the missing Texas man
called his wife Saturday evening, told her his Jeep had stalled
and asked her to come get him. The wife, Elizabeth-Anne Larsen,
arrived at the scene Sunday morning but had not heard from her
husband since that call.
"He said, 'There's a flood here, you have to come here,"' she
told The Wichita Eagle. "He was very upset. He was talking
Seven vehicles were swept off the highway Saturday night.
Beginning early in the day, the Emporia area received between 8-12
inches of rain in 24 hours, the National Weather Service said.
Another quarter of an inch of rain fell in the 24-hour period
beginning Sunday, as authorities found the vehicles strewn about a
low-lying area in the Flint Hills.
A lone highway patrolman, using a bullhorn, was initially on
the interstate Saturday night, trying to warn people away from the
water that had flooded the turnpike, said the Rev. Steve Gordon,
who was among those forced to stop on the northbound lanes of the
interstate. Many people, Gordon said, did not heed the warning.
On Monday, the turnpike was open, but with traffic restricted
to a single lane in each direction.
Copyright 2003 by
TheKansasCityChannel.com. The Associated Press contributed
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