The search for a missing Southern Methodist University campus police officer presumably swept away in the fast-rising flood waters of Turtle Creek early Tuesday morning has been suspended for the night Wednesday.[[385521431,R]]
Search dogs began walking sections of Turtle Creek starting at Dallas' Reverchon Park just as the sun rose Wednesday looking for Officer Mark McCullers.
As the day progressed, Dallas Fire-Rescue's swift water rescue teams were back on the water and Dallas police divers were physically in the creek searching by hand.
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McCullers was working an off-duty private security job at a construction site at Fitzhugh and St. John's when he reported at about 1:39 a.m. to Highland Park police that water was over the hood of his car.
Surveillance video in the area recorded his vehicle on the Fitzhugh Avenue bridge being swept into the creek. While the footage is grainy, it appears McCullers opened the door and exited the vehicle before the car was swept downstream.
Search crews recovered the officer's car on Tuesday afternoon, but McCullers has not yet been found.
Dallas police divers were scouring the creek by hand near a giant storm grate right before Reverchon Park and Maple Avenue. It's possible that's where the officer's body is stuck and they could be seen removing debris and trash in an effort to rule the area out.
The K-9s are part of One Search Rescue Team, a DFW-based volunteer organization that uses professional search and rescue dog handlers to assist fire and police agencies.
"We deploy those (dog teams) whether it be a disaster area, or a single missing person who is presumed deceased, things of that nature," said Brian Flynn, a search manager with the group.
The dogs can search for live people or deceased individuals. The group was contacted on Tuesday and helped search the water for several hours.
Flynn said the dogs provide a great resource to rescuers, both in saving time and money.
"A dog can cover much more area than putting a line search," Flynn said. "How inefficient that would be, putting 20 people as opposed to one dog covering a half-mile very quickly, so that’s the idea."
It's an idea searchers hope will find the officer's body sooner rather than later.
Ben Nix, a member of McCullers' family, released the following statement Wednesday afternoon through SMU.
While we still have hopes in the rescue of our beloved Mark McCullers, we understand that the elapsed time and circumstances are not on our side. My family and I would like to provide a statement to the public regarding one of the most devoted men we know.
Mark was devoted to his country as he served for nine years as a Marine. Mark was devoted to training proper gun control and combat techniques for the protection and service of others. He was devoted to the law as he served the last two years on the SMU police force and he was proud to call them family. Lastly and most importantly, Mark was devoted in his faith in God and to his family. My sister and Mark have an amazing love. For the last eight years they have dedicated themselves to each other and their blended family of six wonderful children who will cherish the time they were able to spend as a family.
We would like to personally thank the SMU police force for their outpouring of love and affection during this very difficult time. We would like to thank all of the services such as Dallas Fire & Rescue, Dallas Police, Highland Park Police and the countless others who have provided countless hours of their time to search for our amazing Mark. Thank you to all for your thoughts and prayers and we would appreciate privacy during this time as we focus our attention on bringing Mark home.