Search continues in Branson for missing woman from Arkansas

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BRANSON, Mo. (KSPR) - The search continues for the body of a woman who was swept away in flash flooding on Saturday night. Police say her car went into swift water on Fall Creek Road, near the Cooper Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Two people in the car were killed. Search crews found Antonio Finley, 37, and Kaliea Munn, 17, along Fall Creek on Sunday. Two people made it out of the car alive, but Whitney McDonald, 31, is missing.

Now, officers are focusing their search on Lake Taneycomo.

“I feel so sorry for this family. I know if Whitney had it to do over again, she probably would have made another choice," said Police Chief Stan Dobbins.

Dobbins says all five people in the car were visiting Branson from Nashville, Ark., and they were unfamiliar with the area. He says McDonald was driving the car on Saturday night.

“They realized the water was deeper than anticipated. They stopped and were attempting to back out of the water when they were washed away,” said Dobbins.

Dobbins says no one ever expected Fall Creek to get as high as it did.
“Anyone that entered it did not have a chance to battle that water,” said Dobbins.

Tim Limcher works at the Fall Creek Steak and Catfish house, not far from the place where the flood swept a car off the road. He witnessed the flash flood on Saturday night.

“I actually learned this year in my geology class that flash floods are the number one killer of natural disasters in America. Because I was just thinking if I should just leave early, before it got too bad,” he said, “And we went outside, and the road was completely covered. I decided it was best to just wait it out.”

He says it’s hard to believe that the quiet creek jumped its banks in a matter of minutes.

“I have more respect for flooding. Knowing that how dangerous it is, and people’s lives are at stake because of it,” he said.

“The weather has been unbelievable this year," said Dobbins.

Dobbins says the recent floods are making it difficult to find McDonald’s body.

“Anyone that knows Taneycomo knows that it’s normally a pretty pristine lake. But right now the visibility is extremely poor. It would not be safe to put divers in the water,” he said.

Another challenge that search crews face is the lake’s current. Dobbins says Taneycomo is technically a lake, but it acts more like a river that carries water from Table Rock Lake into Bull Shoals Lake.
He says search crews are working hard to give a grieving family closure.

“But the sad reality, sometimes in this type of situation, there are times when bodies never do resurface,” he said.

Dobbins says, over the next few days, the Missouri State Water Patrol will be on Taneycomo with sonar equipment and cadaver dogs, searching for McDonald. He asks boaters and anglers on Lake Taneycomo to keep an eye out as well.