Side Scan Sonar Search & Recovery

Bruce’s Legacy is a 501 (C)(3) volunteer organization providing emergency assistance, education, public safety awareness and search and recovery operations for drowned victims to provide resolution for families.

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Search & Recovery

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Helping to provide resolution for families of tragic water incidents and drownings
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Public Safety Education

Provide assistance and support to law enforcement, fire departments and government agencies
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Scubility allows people with disabilities to experience weightlessness of being underwater
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2 cars found in the Black River in LaCrosse

When we were on the Black River searching for Shalim Shahjehan Augustine, we found several other items of interest. It’s common for us to see items on the side scan sonar imaging that are interesting and clearly out of place with the bottom of the river or lake. The water is a dumping grounds for so many items that people decide to dispose of.

Scanning the river near a boat launch along the Clinton Street bridge we saw a large object. It was unclear exactly what the item was but it was obviously big; possibly a boat. It didn’t give an image a car typically will. As you can see from the photos the top of the vehicle has deteriorated. This is why the sonar image was a questionable.

Bruce’s Legacy located the objects and gave the location information to the LaCrosse Dive Unit. They wanted to do the recovery of the vehicles. We traveled to LaCrosse so we could see what we had found with the sonar.

We were told it was an old Chevy van last registered in 1981. Dated too far back for there to be an active record of the owner. It’s possible this is Scooby Doos’ Mystery Machine.

Click on the images for an expanded view

The second car we located was underneath an old paddle boat parked along the river bank at Copeland Park. It was upside down, laying on its roof with the front of the vehicle facing the shore line.

Pulling the second car out posed some challenges in part of a steep wall and shoreline with large boulders. We waited around for several hours while they attempted to pull the vehicle out of the water. Unfortunately so much time had passed while they struggled to extract the vehicle, we decided to leave as it was getting late into the evening. Hopefully we will have some photos of the second car to post and share.

Here is a link to video while there….


Joe Zurnieden Missing

Katy Zurnieden understandably wants to find her missing husband Joe Zurnieden who has been missing since July 1st.

“I was talking to him. I was concerned that he didn’t have a lunch with him that day, so I said, ‘Let me know where you are and I’ll bring you lunch. Me and the girls will bring you lunch,’ and I didn’t hear from him again,” she recalled. ”He goes for walks to clear his mind,” she said. “He would say that he didn’t want to do all of his work in his fan. He liked to find beautiful spots to just think.”

Zurnieden was last seen at his home at about 6 a.m. on July 1. The vehicle he was driving was located in the area of 26th Avenue and Marshall Street in northeast Minneapolis on July 3, and his wife says his sudden disappearance is very out of character for the father of two.

Keith and Scott with Bruce’s Legacy will be using the side scan sonar and rov today to search the Mississippi River near Minneapolis for Joe.

Joe Zurnieden Missing Bruce's Legacy

Shalim Shahjehan Augustine found in the Black River near LaCrosse

Shalim Shahjehan Augustine was found in the Black River Friday evening after his body was seen floating by a boater. Augustine had been boating with co-workers from Huck Finn’s on the Water on Tuesday evening. Police said he had been drinking, but did not know whether he was drunk.

After docking near Powerhouse Marine, Augustine told his friends he planned to walk to his home on the South Side. He was reported missing Wednesday evening after he missed a bartending shift.

Bloodhounds tracked his scent across Clinton Street to just north of the La Crosse Loggers field in Copeland Park, where the trail ended. This placed him down river from the dock near Powerhouse Marine.

Keith and Scott used the side scan sonar between the area Shalim was last seen walking and the dock he exited the boat from. Oddly, Shalim’s body was found up river about a mile from the boat dock he used to get off the river. While Keith and Scott were scanning the area, Shalim was found by the boater.

501 (c) (3) Status Approved!

Bruce’s Legacy has been approved by the IRS as a recognized charitable organization! As many may know, the approval process can be daunting but fortunately we have crossed that finish line. Now we can continue focussing on our path of helping people.

Oh Yeah

Tainter Lake capsized boat leads to unnecessary searching for crews

tainter lake

Several different crews and individuals had been searching for a missing boater when a capsized boat was found on Tainter Lake in Wisconsin. The Dunn County Sheriffs department has confirmed the identity of a Boyceville man as the owner of the boat found capsized in Tainter Lake on July 4th.

Jacob Wyss of Boyceville claimed the 12′ jon boat was his after he was contacted by the sheriffs dept. Monday, July 7th. Wyss claims he didn’t leave the boat capsized and doesn’t know how the boat ended up where it was found.

Bruce’s Legacy put in several hours on the water Sunday, July 6th to aid in the search of a potential missing subject. Keith Cormican, Nick Gebhardt and Dave Whitehouse used the side scan sonar to scan the area of Tainter Lake where the boat had ben found.

Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith and crew were an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s unfortunate they are put in a position to look for someone that isn’t actually missing. It’s deplorable if it’s found this gentleman is untruthful regarding his knowledge of his capsized boat.  The amount of effort, expense and mental drain exhausted on these scenarios may seem routine to the general public but that’s far from the truth. Almost every search we’ve been on has included firemen, police, emts’, volunteers etc who while NOT on duty, still feel obligated or a desire to help aid recovery efforts.

Fortunately no life was lost and the searchers were all safe at the end of the day. Kudos to everyone who sacrificed their 4th of July weekend to search.

Found: Logan Blake in Cedar Lake

Logan Blake has been found by the Cedar Rapids firefighters in Cedar Lake. He was swept into a sewer drain approximately 1.5 miles and ended up in Cedar Lake. Unfortunately he wasn’t as lucky as his friend who made the same long trip through the drain system.

About half way to Cedar Rapids we received the call Logan had been found and we weren’t needed anymore. Johnson County dive team was also searching the area.

Fortunately he was quickly recovered and Logan’s family and friends can have the closure they deserve albeit a sad outcome.

Job well done by the personnel involved.

Logan Blake of Cedar Rapids Iowa

We are on our way to Cedar Rapids Iowa to help find 17 year-old Logan Blake. The story can be read below….

cedar rapids iowa logan blake

Credit to KCRG News–— The Cedar Rapids Fire Department continue to search for the 17-year-old boy who went missing after being swept into a storm sewer.

City officials have identified the missing tean as 17-year-old Logan Blake.

Rescue crews were searching Cedar Lake by boat and walking possible sewer line paths as they continued to search for the teenager.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said three teenagers – Blake, 17-year-old David Bliss and 16-year-old Jacob Spurrell – were playing Frisbee near Arthur Elementary, 2630 B Ave. NE when Blake was swept into a storm sewer. Bliss went in to try to rescue Blake and was also swept in. Spurrell flagged down a passer-by to call 911, officials said.

Bliss came out of the sewer system more than a mile away in Cedar Lake, Buelow said and then walked to St. Luke’s Hospital, he said. Although in shock, the teen did not sustain major injuries.

Bliss’ father told KCRG-TV9 the water from the pipe ripped his son’s clothes off of him. He says a transient man gave him a pair of pants to wear to the hopsital.

Crews were called to the scene at about 7:20 p.m. Monday night and spent hours walking possible paths. Using schematic drawings of the sewer system, workers were trying to determine if there were any other possible paths through the system. The search was called off at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning and resumed around 7:30 a.m.

Families of the boys were gathered at E Ave NE and Oakland Road NE as rescue workers continued to search. The families, accompanied by a chaplain, declined to comment to reporters at the scene.

Mark Blake later told Good Morning America he remains hopeful his son will be found alive,

“We have high hopes, he’s a strong kid, he’s a very athletic kid and he’s got a strong will,” Blake said. “We’ve got all the faith in the world that he’s hooked onto something, held on, waiting for the current to slow down.”

- See more at:

Donation from Peter “Dutch” Eisentrager

We received a donation today from a very kind gentleman in the form of a check and some immaculate Mares scuba gear.

Peter had a goal to someday scuba dive in the ocean. So, in 2010 he was certified at Wazee Sports Center and made is goal a reality after diving in Cozumel. Peter decided to offer his scuba gear in the form of a donation to Bruce’s Legacy and we are looking for a new owner of Peter’s gear. The Mares equipment has only been used a few times and is in like-new, immaculate condition.

Thank you Peter for your generosity and support of our mission. We wish you the very best and hope you find some new challenges to conquer.

Sonar drowning missing water donation bruces legacy

New Denver Update Day 4

We know there have been several people asking about an update here in British Columbia. It’s been difficult since our long drive, getting up early and staying up late to review the sonar images we collect during the day to properly write an update. We have lots of photos and video to share once there sufficient time to properly edit and upload. You’ll get a kick out of the “police escort’ we had coming off the water on day 3 when we were stranded in the middle of Slocan Lake due to boat issue.

Upon our arrival to New Denver Friday night we met with Kathy Nicholls; the grandmother of Sky Donnet and Seargent Darrell Little of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We were briefed and made a plan for the following morning to go out and run the side scan sonar. The Vernon Search and Rescue team had been running sonar and using an ROV the previous several days. We were glad they decided to stay and work with us to cover as much ground as possible. They mentioned the terrain was difficult and we were about to find out just how brutal it was to run the sonar towfish.

Saturday morning we set up our equipment on the Nakusp rescue boat. The local firemen put there handy craftsman skills to work rigging things up so we could effectively run a large winch off the back of the boat. Dave Sutton of Shipwreck Explorers was kind enough to lend his winch and cable which is much longer than ours. We knew Slocan Lake had some depths over 600’ and what we have, wouldn’t get our towfish deep enough for the best possible images.

Once we got started things went ok and we scanned some potential targets of interest. The Vernon SAR would then use their ROV to check out what we picked up on the sonar. No doubt the terrain is extremely difficult to scan. Slocan Lake is in the mountains and they are steep. So imagine these same mountains continuing into the water down to depths of 900’. It’s similar to an iceberg. 10% is at the surface and you need to be extremely leery of what is below the surface that you can’t see. When searching for bodies the towfish that is dragged behind the boat, needs to be as close to the ground as possible. Our hurdles were the depths and incredibly steep peaks and valleys that come up so fast our towfish would hit the rocks. Not a good thing to say the least.

The second day of searching started out with us getting geared up on a different boat. Big John lined up a pontoon boat from a local guy named Darrell. His boat was absolutely perfect for what we needed. We tip our hat to Darrell for building this beauty and allowing us to use it for a couple days. Day 2 was unsuccessful and the weather moved in quickly, taking us off the water.

Later we met with Kathy and her sons Richard and Steven to eat dinner and share our images and update them on our progress. Sky is Richard’s son.

Going into Day 3 we were optimistic feeling we had a solid plan to manage the fast changing terrain with our sonar passes. We had nobody else on the water and the lake was calm. RCMP Art, was driving the boat for us on his time off. Pulling out of the marina after getting our equipment set up, we noticed a change in the boat motor. It was running full throttle but acted like it was starving for fuel. It ran well enough for us to run the sonar so we kept at it. Our plan of running the sonar along the underwater cliffs was working really well. Finally we had the images we needed to see top to bottom without missing much. Everything was going to plan until the boat motor stopped about 3pm. We ended up with a police escort having been towed in by the RCMP zodiac. Once again, a setback we could do without.

We figured out what was wrong with the boat motor upon arriving into the marina. An electric fuel pump wire came unplugged. Unfortunately we had just unloaded all our equipment before realizing what a simple fix it was. We found a couple targets to look for with the ROV just before the boat motor died so the plan for Day 4 was to put the sonar away and focus on using the ROV to see what was below the surface and check out our targets.

We had been staying about 34 km away in Nakusp so we moved our hotel to New Denver. The owner of Dome Quixote, Joan, put us up in her unique and beautiful dome hotel. We had dinner with Kathy and her family that evening.

Day 4 put us out on Lake Slocan with RCMP Chris to check out the targets we picked up previously with the sonar. Once we had our anchors set we were effectively covering ground. Things were going smooth until we found the boat we were on needed to come back to the marina. It was a tough pill to swallow given the conditions were perfect on the water and we were making excellent progress clearing the most likely area for the victims.

We couldn’t walk away after driving so far and not providing the family and community the closure they would like. Especially after the setbacks we had been dealt. So Kathy made some phone calls and lined up another boat. Lex, the owner of Jones Boys Boats hooked us up with a boat to use for the next couple days and we can’t thank him enough. Our plan is to finish working the area of the last seen point where a hiker had seen 2 people clinging to the canoe.

It’s been an eventful past several days and I wish I had the time and energy to share more details. We’re giving it our all and want so badly to come through with results for everyone involved.

Every member of the RCMP has been tremendous to work with and they should be proud of the effort they put in. Thank you to everyone who has wished us well and thanked us for making our way to New Denver. We hope we have some positive news to report on soon.

New Denver British Columbia Search

New Denver British Columbia Search bruces legacy

Call it fate or call it what you will; we had a chance encounter with a wonderful woman in Canada, February of this year. We flew into Vancouver and scheduled a float plane to fly us to Nanaimo Bay on Vancouver Island. Scheduled  were 3 days of training with Seamore Marine and our new ROV-remote operated vehicle.

Since the weather wasn’t cooperating our flight was cancelled and the alternative route left us hopping a bus, subway and taxi ride to get to the ferry which was a 2 hour ride to Nanaimo Bay. Kathy Nicholls who lives on Vancouver Island was in the same predicament, only she knew her way around. She let us ride her coat tails and held our hand navigating the jaunt to the ferry boat.

Sometimes when you travel you meet people you want to run from and others you could sit for hours with. Fortunately, Kathy was the latter. We had a few hours together sharing, laughing and she showed us some amazing footage of the orcas hunting dolphins in the bay where we were staying. When the ferry arrived in Nanaimo Bay, I though that would probably be the last we’d see her, as is what happens with most traveling encounters from my experience. You enjoy the person and the moment for what it’s worth and then move on.

As much as I thoroughly enjoyed Kathy’s presence and would love to spend more time with her, I’m saddened to say we will be meeting again soon but on terms we could’ve least expected. Tragically her grandson, Skye and 2 other friends are missing in Slocan Lake, New Denver, British Columbia from a canoe accident. A fourth victim , 19 year old Lily Harmer-Taylor, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Kathy contacted us Tuesday and informed us of the heartbreaking situation. Kathy and the RCMP have asked us to make our way so that we can assist the search and recovery, utilizing our sonar and rov equipment. 1734 miles and 27 hours of drive time are not stopping us from helping Kathy, her family and the and the New Denver community. At the moment of writing this we are in Billings Montana for the night. We have already driven 14 hours today and have another 13 hours of driving ahead of us. I’m copying content below from an article regarding the canoe accident and will continue to keep this case updated. We will post again Friday night. New Denver British Columbia Search


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is calling in side-scan radar and an underwater remote vehicle to find three missing males in a southeastern B.C. lake that could be as deep as 210 metres. (630 feet)

RCMP divers on Tuesday wrapped up another day’s search for 15-year-old Jule Wiltshire-Padfield, 21-year-old Hayden Kyle and 19-year-old Skye Donnet.

They were among a group of four involved in a Saturday canoeing accident on Slocan Lake near the mountain village of New Denver that also claimed the life of 19-year-old Lily Harmer-Taylor.

RCMP Sgt. Darryl Little says divers searched an area of the lake known as Bigelow Bay on Tuesday and have now asked Emergency Management BC for additional equipment.

He says the lake is more than 120-metres deep where the canoe overturned, and is estimated to be between 180 and 210 metres in other areas.

Little says the divers will continue their underwater work on Wednesday.

Complete Article Here by the Calgary Herald