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Body of missing toddler found in White River

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Search crews found the body of a two-year-old Columbus girl in the White River Sunday, downstream from where her father’s truck was located earlier this week.

Emma Sweet and her father, Jeremy Sweet, 39, had been missing since Wednesday. They were reported missing Thursday.

Around 6 a.m. Friday, duck hunters found the father’s truck submerged in the East Fork of the White River about a mile south of Columbus.

Jeremy Sweet was inside of the vehicle when it was found by the hunters. He was hospitalized for hypothermia and frostbite.

Emma Sweet wasn’t in the truck, police said.

On Saturday, Emma Sweet’s coat was located in the river, and on Sunday — after three days of searching — her body was found about three miles from where her father’s truck went into the water.

“It was amazing, it was pretty incredible how much effort they put in to finding this little girl — and we got her home,” said Emma Sweet’s uncle, Brian O’Neal.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew Myers said Sunday that Jeremy Sweet remains in critical condition at the hospital.  

Myers also said that Jeremy Sweet gave law enforcement conflicting stories during the search for the toddler, which made it unclear if Emma Sweet was in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

“When we originally had contact with Mr. Sweet, he basically gave two stories — and we’re investigating that — but one of the stories was that he did have his two-year-old daughter Emma with him when he went off the embankment … but what he originally said was that he possibly dropped his daughter off some place prior to that incident happening,” he said.

It is unclear how Jeremy Sweet ended up driving over an embankment and into the river.

“There is access to the river back there, but it is access that you have to go off road and drive through a barrier to get to the water,” said Indiana Department of Natural Resources Captain Jet Quillen.

The sheriff’s office said that Jeremy Sweet is out on bond for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and possession of methamphetamine.

A needle was found on Jeremy Sweet when he was rescued, and as a result, Myers said he was placed a 72-hour hold.

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