TEMPE, AZ - A body was recovered from the Salt River Sunday near the spot where an Arizona State University student was last seen and there's a good chance it is the missing teen, a Tempe police spokesman said.
Two private search groups were looking for 19-year-old Jack Culolias Sunday morning when one group spotted a body floating in the river near the spot where one of the freshman's shoes was found about two weeks ago, Sgt. Mike Pooley said. He was last seen Nov. 30 after being kicked out of a Tempe bar during a fraternity party and was suspected of being drunk.
The deceased pulled from the water was wearing a single red shoe, leading to the "strong possibility" that the body is that of Culolias, said police spokeswoman Molly Enright in a statement later Sunday.
"My opinion is the recent rains from last night caused a current and the body became dislodged from whatever was holding it down," said Kelly Townsend with FindMe2.com, the search crew that located the body Sunday morning.
Pooley said the county medical examiner will have to identify the body, which had apparently been in the water for an extended period.
The student's mother was notified of the developments, police said.
"It's just a sad time for the family and they deserve all our love and respect," said Jyl Pribia with the Arizona Search Response Team.
Authorities searched the river north of Tempe Marketplace using underwater cameras and radar equipment looking for Culolias after his disappearance but came up empty.
State officials confirmed last week they were investigating the bar near ASU where Culolias was last seen. Arizona Department of Liquor Licensing and Control officials said the agency is reviewing information from Cadillac Ranch at Tempe Marketplace over concerns of possible underage drinking.
Culolias used a fake ID to get into Cadillac Ranch to drink when about 200 other people were inside at the time, police said. He also had expressed concerns to his family about being "scared" about his initiation into the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity going into pledge week, which also is known as "hell week," authorities told the East Valley Tribune.
Campus police said his friends saw him heading to a taxi cab and never saw him again. His shoe was later found by the river.
It is not known whether Culolias was served alcohol at the bar. But Liquor Licensing and Control officials said investigators will review the credit card purchases made at the bar and compare them with the ages of the customers prior to considering whether any fines could be levied against the establishment.
A manager at Cadillac Ranch who answered a phone call last week declined to comment, saying they had only spoken to Tempe police.
Tempe police said Sunday there's nothing to indicate the disappearance was anything but accidental.
"There's nothing to suggest foul play, it's just a tragic, tragic incident," Pooley said. "Our hearts go out to the family."