Texas EquuSearch on Sunday had located what it believed to be the body of Brian Reed tangled in debris about 20 miles northwest of New Orleans. But Kenner Police Lt. Wayne McInnis said divers were unable to find it.
"We had the perfect image," said Tim Miller, director of EquuSearch. "There's no doubt it was him, but it was in an area that has so much debris that doing anything there, it's really hard."
Divers trying to reach the body might have dislodged it as they moved debris, Miller said.
"And if they did, it could have moved five feet or five miles," McInnis said. "The current out there is pretty swift."
Miller said his crew was sifting through the sonar images taken throughout the day to see if they can narrow the search.
"We were really optimistic Sunday and this morning. Not so much now," Miller said. "We definitely have a difficult task ahead of us."
Miller halted the search Monday after rain moved into the area. They were looking in the area where the man believed to be Brian Reed went in on Jan. 7, when he apparently jumped into the river after being confronted by a deputy sheriff.
Karen Reed, the mother of Ed and Brian Reed, said investigators found her son's shoes and jacket. She said the car the man ran from belonged to another brother.
On Monday, the search was still centered on the area where he was last seen, about 200 feet downstream and about 50 feet out from the bank, Miller said.
"It's very tough on the edge of the Mississippi River," McInnis said. "There is a lot of debris from the bank out 30, 40 feet. You can't see more than a few feet in there even during daylight."
Boats also were making surface searches of the river up to eight miles downstream, Miller said. He continued to use sonar at the upriver site, and divers also were in the water.
"The conditions are very bad," Miller said. "Divers are finding 100 percent black water, the current is strong, and there are big ships going past steadily."
The river is just 15 feet deep at the original search site, Miller said, but quickly drops off to 30 feet, then 80 feet.
EquuSearch had promised the family it would search for one day, Miller said. Monday was the sixth day of looking.
"We've just been begging for that little bit of luck to go along with everything else," Miller said. "But so far, we have not gotten it. At some point, you have to say it's time to stop searching."
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office said a deputy spotted a parked car that matched the description of one reported stolen. When the deputy told the man believed to be Brian Reed to put his hands behind his back, he bolted and ran into the river, authorities said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press