Search resumes for woman who plunged 50 feet into river - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Search resumes for woman who plunged 50 feet into river

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FULTON, AR (KLTV) -

Texas and Arkansas crews will resume the search for a woman who leapt from an Interstate 30 bridge and into the Red River to avoid being hit by an 18-wheeler.

51-year-old Ricky Norword and 43-year-old Janis Northcross were both out of their cars and on the bridge, after icy road conditions caused the two to crash into each other. While they were outside their cars, an 18-wheeler jackknifed, then barreled towards them. That’s when they made the decision to jump.

Norwood told Raycom affiliate KSLA the decision was pure instinct.

"I just jumped. That is the first instinct: jump or die, so I jumped,” Norwood said.

Norwood survived the 50-foot leap into the chilly waters of the Red River, and is now recovering at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana. He said the impact knocked all of his clothes off except for his underwear and socks.

"It was so far down there I closed my eyes when I hit the water I didn't know I hit the water until I open my eyes and I was underneath the water,” he recalled. “I prayed to the Lord, 'Please let me make it over here,' and I made it to the bank."

Northcross also leapt in that terrifying moment, but hasn't been seen since 2 A.M. on Saturday.

"One time she said,"Help!" but I couldn't get out there," recalled Norwood, who said he never saw whether she jumped or was knocked off the bridge by the jackknifed rig.

Local emergency officials no longer believe Northcross will be found alive.

"We are in recovery," said Miller County Office of Emergency Management Director Larry Pritchett. "I know that is a bad thing to say, but we are in recovery."

Family members expressed concern that the search in the hours immediately following her disappearance was suspended too soon, but Pritchett explains that the dangers of the Red River made searching at night impossible.

That search with boats, sonar and dogs resumed Saturday morning and was again suspended Saturday night until picking up again Sunday morning. Family members took to ATVs to comb the banks. By nightfall, there was still no sign of Northcross, except for a what Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton described as a few of her personal items.

"My prayers go out to the family and I am sorry all this tragedy happened and I appreciate them stopping and trying to help save my husband," says Ricky Norwood's wife, Lillie.

As he recovers, Ricky Norwood struggles to come to terms with his survival, and Northcross' loss. "It hurt me worse that I couldn't help her and they stopped to help me that is What hurt me, because they could have went on and they stopped to help me and look what happened."

The search is expected to resume once daylight breaks on Monday.

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