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Two divers searched Lake Harrison on Tuesday but didn't find the bodies of a couple who have been missing since a flash flood swept their SUV off Highland Avenue on Friday night, said Harrison Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Pace.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission divers used sonar to search for the bodies of John and Amy Villines. Divers stopped searching at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and will resume at 9 a.m. today, Pace said.

"The divers are cold and froze, so we're going to suspend the search and resume in the morning," he said.

Pace said authorities drained the lake from Sunday until Tuesday. They stopped draining it so the divers could get a boat into one area of the lake, but they resumed draining the lake late Tuesday.

Pace said it may take another five days to totally drain the lake, which is normally 8 to 10 feet deep. He said they'll keep draining it until the bodies are found.

Lake Harrison is formed by a weir on Crooked Creek. The lake is adjacent to downtown Harrison.

Brian Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said the storm dumped 1.83 inches of rain on Harrison in one hour, beginning at 7:53 p.m. Friday.

Harrison Fire Chief Marvin Holt said the Villines' vehicle was washed off a low spot on Highland Avenue, just south of Capps Road. From there, the water carried the vehicle east in a drainage ditch until it lodged against a bridge over a ditch near Ridge Avenue.

Holt said the driver's side window was broken out, so it looked like the couple got out of the vehicle and were perhaps swept away by the water. The drainage ditch flows southeastward to Stephenson Avenue, where it enters a tunnel that goes under downtown Harrison to Lake Harrison.

It's about a mile from Highland Avenue to Lake Harrison. Holt said the drainage ditch and tunnel had been thoroughly searched.

Pace said John Villines' pants, shirt and wallet were found Sunday in Crooked Creek, below the point where two gates in the weir were opened to drain the lake.

He said Amy Villines' purse was found in the drainage ditch close to Highland Avenue.

Holt said John Villines is a locksmith who owns Villines Lock & Key in Harrison.

Metro on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Divers seek Arkansas couple missing after flash flood swept SUV off road

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