Lamine River search continues, attorney for Mengqi Ji's family provides statement

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BOONVILLE - Emergency crews continued searching the Lamine River for the body of Mengqi Ji Elledge Friday, marking the fourth straight day at a location around a bridge in Cooper County. 

Multiple Columbia and State units have been working together on the search. A dive team was also assembled and has been searching.

Columbia Public Information Officer Jeff Pitts told KOMU that there's several feet of debris under the water, making the search more difficult. 

At one point, crews lowered a basket into the water, but found nothing.

The search was suspended as officers investigated found a bucket filled with mud.

"That's how meticulous they're trying to be. When something of interest is found, basically the whole process stops, so we can focus on that, Pitts said.

Amy Salladay, the attorney for Mengqi Ji's parents, Ke Ren and Xiaolin Ji, told KOMU in an email the family is grateful for the search, but remain deeply saddened by the disappearance of their child.

"They are heartbroken and grieving," Salladay said. "They are thankful for all of the efforts put into the search but this is their only daughter. They want resolution but this is a very difficult time for them."

No evidence of Elledge's disappearance had been found as crews left the search scene Friday afternoon.

Debris in the river prompted the Columbia Police Department to halt the search until Tuesday.

"We are currently working on collecting more equipment and more machinery because the struggle we're seeing right now is the visability, the amount of debris inside the river," Pitts said.
The search has only been time-consuming as as divers battle the frigid winter water temperatures.
"We are trying to make sure they limit themselves to a comfortable level so they don't overdo it," Pitts said of the divers.