Search continues for Ashdown woman in Red River after wreck on I - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Search continues for Ashdown woman in Red River after wreck on I30 bridge

Posted: Updated: Feb 22, 2014 02:40 PM
Family members identify the missing woman 43-year-old Janis Burris Northcross. (Source: Burris family) Family members identify the missing woman 43-year-old Janis Burris Northcross. (Source: Burris family)
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FULTON, AR (KSLA) -

The search continues for an Ashdown woman believed to have leapt or been knocked into the Red River early Saturday morning after an 18-wheeler collided with wrecked vehicles.

The search for 43-year-old Janis Burris-Northcross had been suspended Saturday evening and resumed Sunday morning. Aside from the discovery of some personal items, there has been no sign of her.

Police say it all started around 2 a.m. Saturday with a wreck on the bridge involving 3 vehicles due to icy conditions. Those involved in that wreck had gotten out of the vehicles, when an 18-wheeler heading eastbound on I30 hit the bridge and began to jackknife and collided with one of the wrecked vehicles.

When they saw the big rig sliding out of control, police say 1 woman and 1 man leapt from the bridge and into the Red River in 29 degree weather, with water temperatures only in the upper 30s.

While police say Northcross leapt from the bridge, family members say she was knocked off, along with another man named Ricky Norwood.

Norwood was able to swim to safety and was taken to the hospital. His current condition has not been released.

Her sister, Catherine Burris, remained on the bridge, but was injured. She was taken to the hospital and released later Saturday morning.  

Agents with the Texas Park & Wildlife Department had a boat in the Red River assisting Miller County emergency officials with the search Saturday, along with Hempstead County's Office of Emergency Management and Arkansas State Police. Dogs and sonar were also used, but officials say the currents in the river were too strong to send divers in.

Family members also taken to ATVs to search for themselves along the banks of the river, because they say the search was suspended just an hour after the woman went missing. While officials resumed the search around 4 a.m., they are concerned Janis could have been holding on somewhere.

"Anything could have transpired, you don't know what the situation was," says Janis' sister in law, Lydia. "She could have been holding on to a branch. It's frustrating. It's nerve-wracking and it's frustrating to be in this situation. It's shocking. Nobody wants to wake up at 2:30 in the morning and get a call like this. Nobody."

"Praying and hoping that she is okay, and that she is holding on," says her sister, Gloria. "We know it's cold, the water's freezing cold. We're just hoping she's holding on."

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