The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is conducting a massive search for a man who went missing while floating down the Salt River.
MCSO spokesman Brandon Jones said Wednesday's search will focus more on the river, including the deployment of a dive team.
Joshua Williams, 22, who recently moved to the Valley from Chicago, was last seen between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday while tubing with friends.
MCSO Officer Chris Hegstrom said Williams was on an inner tube which was tied to a group of 12 to 15 friends also on tubes. Williams somehow got separated from the group and has not been seen or heard from since.
"They made it around one of the bends in the river and when the friends turned around he wasn't there," said Hegstrom.
Those friends stayed at the Salt River until about 9 p.m. Sunday when they returned home hoping their friend had made it home, but Williams was not there. That's when they called the MCSO.
"We've had the dive teams in the water, we've searched the ground around the area. We've tried to check every location that we might have thought he could be. We've been searching by air trying to find this individual," said Hegstrom.
Tubers coming off the river said the water level seemed higher this weekend than it's been this summer probably because of the recent rains.
"There are so many people that do get separated because the rapids will take you one direction and the river does split a couple of different ways," said tuber Kim Jenkins. "We've been out here several times this summer and this is the highest I've seen it and the fastest I've seen it."
Hegstrom said search and rescue crews scaled back their initial search Monday at about 2 a.m. but then started up again full force at about 8 a.m.
"Witnesses say that he says he is a so-so swimmer. He was last described as wearing a white T-shirt, black jean shorts and white tennis shoes," said Hegstrom.
The company who runs the Salt River tubing operation suggests floaters do not tie their tubes together, but most groups do.
"We did almost lose somebody because a rope wasn't as strong. We tie it double and even triple sometimes around the tubes. It depends on the rapids," said tuber Cassie Collins.
Several people who grew up in the Valley said they floated past the MCSO dive team and knew something was wrong.
MCSO did not say how long they will keep the search going for Williams. They are just trying to focus on finding him.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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