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After five days of searching, the bodies of a Harrison couple still hadn't been found as of late Wednesday afternoon.

John and Amy Villines have been missing since a flash flood Friday night swept their SUV off Highland Avenue, said Harrison Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Pace.

Authorities believe their bodies were washed downstream, through a tunnel under downtown Harrison and into Lake Harrison. John Villines' T-shirt, sweatpants and wallet were found below a low dam on Crooked Creek that forms Lake Harrison, said Pace.

Since Sunday, water has been released periodically through gates to lower the lake level and aid the searchers. Pace said two pumps were moved in on Wednesday to speed up the draining of the lake. He said the lake is normally 8 to 10 feet deep. Pace said it still could take days to drain the lake, with rain and snow in the forecast and Crooked Creek still flowing.

If the victims aren't found before the lake is completely drained, Pace said searchers will attempt to walk through the lake bed to find them.

Pace said four divers with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission used sonar to search the lake on Wednesday but had no luck. Two divers searched for the couple on Tuesday.

Pace said Boone County dispatched a drone on Wednesday to provide an aerial view. Today, the Baxter County sheriff's office will furnish a helicopter to search a 15-mile section of Crooked Creek east of Harrison toward Yellville, said Pace.

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

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

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

Metro on 12/06/2018

Print Headline: After days of searching, no sign of bodies of Arkansas couple missing since flash flood

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