Challenges with rescue and recovery missions in rural South Dakota

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CHERRY CREEK, S.D. (KEVN) - The rough terrain was an obstacle searchers had to overcome as they looked for and recovered the body of 5-year-old Ariya in Cherry Creek.

People wait anxiously by Cherry Creek as they try to look for the body of 5-year-old Ariya. (KEVN)

Jagged rocks and curvy creeks, South Dakota is known for its rough rural terrain.

It poses problems for rescuers to do their jobs, including the recovery team who pulled out a 5-year-old Ariya in Cherry Creek Wednesday afternoon.

Mike Kennedy with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says they had a difficult time accessing the creek.

"Since the river rose it basically cut all the banks. So we had to improvise and find a way in order to get out what one of our boats," Kennedy said.

Five feet tall brush and grass lined Cherry Creek on Tuesday but Wednesday morning a bulldozer came right thru here creating a pathway for a boat to come to Cherry Creek to rescue the girl.

Kennedy said one of the worries throughout the search was the dead trees in the water, places where the girl could have potentially get caught up in.

"It doesn't flow like this. This is from all the excess rain they have been having further West that's been running down. It's usually not this high either. Pretty low with pockets of deep water throughout. But it never, it's rare that it flows this strong except in the spring when all the snow melts," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks brought in two flat bottom boats for the search and called for Rapid City Swift Water Rescue Team to help tackle the eight feet deep water.

In June, Kennedy said the department purchased an all-terrain vehicle called a Sherp to overcome fallen trees and boulders while having the ability to float or ride on ice.

Kennedy said they are expanding their toolbox by bringing in another flat bottom boat with a raft next week to have on hand for future missions.