Update: Rescue efforts called off
In the wake of over three hours of vigilant search efforts from four area agencies, the search for an individual who may have fallen from an area railroad trestle into the Wisconsin River, was called off just before 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Personnel engaged in the search reported efforts to locate the individual were unsuccessful, and it was ultimately determined that no one had fallen into the water.
At 1:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon, the Merrill Police and Fire departments initially responded to a report of a man standing on top of the railroad bridge over the river off West Main Street. A passerby reportedly observed the man standing on the upper beams of the trestle; which stands approximately 80 feet above the surface of the Wisconsin River. However, upon turning around for a second observation, the reporting party indicated the man was no longer visible.
Within minutes personnel and equipment from the Merrill Fire Department were on scene in two locations; the area of the trestle as well as Ott’s Park. Assistance was requested from the Tomahawk Fire Department’s Dive Team as well as those of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. Within an hour from the initial page from the Lincoln County 911 Communications Center, personnel from all four agencies had begun both above and below-water search efforts. Both underwater visual equipment and SONAR equipment provided by the Wisconsin DNR, were utilized in the search efforts.
Upon completing the search, Merrill Fire Department personnel indicated the area of the search was fairly shallow, with the deepest area only dropping to an estimated depth of 10 feet. Personnel also indicated underwater debris including branches and limbs proved to be a challenge. The Merrill Fire Department would like to thank the responding agencies for their assistance and timely response to the incident.