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Search for swimmers expected to enter third day today

NIAGARA FALLS -- The search for two swimmers reported missing Sunday in the lower Niagara River was called off Monday afternoon but is expected to continue for a third day today, State Parks Police said.

Parks Police crews spent two days searching along the Niagara Gorge shoreline on the American side of the Niagara River, Sgt. James Riddle said.

Riddle said Parks Police by Monday evening had not received any missing-persons reports since getting a report from a witness Sunday evening who told them he saw two men swimming in the area of the Last Chance Rock, under the Whirlpool Bridge near the lower river rapids.

"[The witness] said it then appeared as if [the two swimmers] were in distress and shortly after that they were swept down river," Riddle said.

The search began just before 6 p.m. Sunday, involved several local police agencies and lasted until nightfall, but failed to find the swimmers. Two parks search-and-rescue crews resumed the search at 7 a.m. Monday and came out of the gorge at about 11:30 a.m. with negative results.

The Niagara County Sheriff's Office helicopter searched until about 2 p.m., and the Lewiston Fire Department boat was the last to leave the search area in the lower Niagara River about mid-afternoon.

"[This] morning we are going to send a couple crews down into the gorge to search the shoreline," Riddle said.

nfischer@buffnews.com