Side Scan Sonar Search & Recovery

Bruce’s Legacy is a 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

Search & Recovery

Helping to provide resolution for families of tragic water incidents and drownings
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Provide assistance and support to law enforcement, fire departments and government agencies
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St. Johns Ambulance Video

st johns ambulance first aid training bruces legacy

St. Johns Ambulance has made some videos that send a strong message about first aid and the importance of being trained. It’s important for people to not take for granted they’ll know what to do. If you would like information about getting trained give us a call.


Here is another video from St. Johns Ambulance that sends a strong message


Seamor Marine Nanaimo BC helps search and recovery

seamor marine rov missing person

Seamor Marine is making sure Bruce’s Legacy & Legacy Water Search and Recovery Society of Langley BC has some of the right tools it needs to find missing drowning victims.

“It’s mostly because of the people who came and helped us and our families,” Wilson said. “They are overwhelmed with calls and there’s nothing like this in Canada.”

The society is in the process of raising $350,000 to purchase an ROV, side scan sonar and a boat to carry out searches for Canadian families.

So far, about $50,000 has been raised through donations from service clubs, sport teams and corporations.

Last week, the men from Legacy Water Search and Recovery Society were at the Pacific Biological Station dock conducting sea trials of a Seamor Marine ROV sold to the society at a heavily discounted price with interest-free financing.

“They actually contacted us,” Wilson said. “We had already visited Don Simard, Seamor Marine senior sales representative, once and he said, ‘We’ve got to get this in your hands and get you trained because your season’s coming up,’ as sick as that sounds.”

Seamor Marine has received numerous calls over the years from families of missing drowning victims asking for help.

“Last year was a particularly bad year because there were a lot of kids that drowned,” Simard said.

The company would refer victims’ families and search organizations to a dive company in Courtenay and had loaned its ROVs for searches, but recognized a long-standing need for a Canadian organization dedicated to this kind of work.

Seamor has also outfitted Bruce’s Legacy, a drown victim search organization based in Wisconsin, which uses an ROV and side scan sonar equipment in its operations. That organization discovered Seamor by contacting Lebus.

“They’re in a bad area where they have some of the worst winters,” Simard said. “They cut open ice to go looking for bodies, but they have a similar story.”

Bruce’s Legacy is named for Bruce Cormican, a Black River Hills, Wis. firefighter who died while trying to recover a drowning victim in 1995.

Full article can be read -written by Chris Bush

ROV Practice at Lake Wazee

Sunday we had the ROV in Lake Wazee to practice flying. It was a great day for being outside with temps around 50 and sunny. The lake still has a lot of ice on it and probably will for another month. Fortunately some fellow divers from Rochester were at the lake diving and had cut the ice so they could get in the water. We were able to use this hole and get the ROV in to play. Thanks for the pre-cut ice Dave, Mike, John & Rob!!

Everyone who showed up had a chance to fly the ROV and have some fun.

rochester scuba club

Our Seamor ROV

Seamore ROV unit

February 9th we left the Midwestern snow and cold from Chicago en route for British Columbia and our new Seamor ROV. Our path took us through Toronto for a short layover and then on to Vancouver. A night stay in Vancouver was scheduled before an early flight to our final destination of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Once we left the airport in Vancouver en route to our hotel, we had to double check we actually landed in Canada and not Asia. 4 out of 5 Richmond residents are Chinese and nearly all the signs were in characters and neon lights as if you were in Shanghai.

We were curious to learn while making logistical arrangements that it rarely snows in Nanaimo. It has a very mild, temperate climate making it a highly desirable place to live in Canada. We also learned Vancouver is ranked the second most expensive city in the world.rainy_vancouver

Fun facts aside, we brought the snow from Wisconsin with us. We were scheduled to take a float plane from Vancouver to Nanaimo but the snow which rarely happens in Nanaimo, forced us to take a ferry that morning instead. Although our plans were pushed back, we still made it and were fortunate to have a nice Canadian woman guide us and lend some helpful tips.

Just a week prior;  killer whales chased a huge pod of dolphins into the exact bay where we were doing our ROV training. Here is the video. What an impressive site! We didn’t see any killer whales but did mange to see a seal  and sea lion.

Our tour of the Seamore facility introduced us to all the staff and where the magic happens. We saw how all the modules and components for each ROV model are manufactured onsite. It’s really impressive when you see first hand how intricate each circuit board and wire are thoughtfully placed. It gave us more of an appreciation for what we have and what these machines are capable of.

Our trainer Deron was great and very thorough all 3 days. After running us through the set up and control panel, we ‘flew’ our ROV in a tank to get a feel for the machine. The following 2 days had us in the open water chasing crabs, picking up bottles, looking in pipes and practicing getting unstuck. Anything and everything, to practice maneuvering our new ROV.

From Don and Deron to all the super friendly staff at Seamor and the absolutely charming surroundings of Nanaimo, we had a great time in British Columbia. We wish we had more time to stay and scuba dive or check out the caves and mountains. Hopefully someday our path will bring us back to this beautiful part of the country. For now we have a lot of training to do with the ROV…

Winona County Sheriff Brand

Winona Sheriff Brand deserves a huge amount of credit for the continued effort in never giving up. He had called in more help than any other search that I have seen in just over 20 years that I have been involved in Public Safety Diving. It was his effort in reaching out as far as he could to help the Kingsbury family today. “Great Job Sheriff Brand”
Photo: Winona Sheriff Brand deserves a huge amount of credit for the continued effort in never giving up. He had called in more help than any other search that I have seen in just over 20 years that I have been involved in Public Safety Diving. It was his effort in reaching out as far as he could to help the Kingsbury family today. "Great Job Sheriff Brand"

ROV Remote Operated Vehicle

For the past couple of months we have been looking at remote operated vehicles or ROV’s. We are convinced it’s a crucial piece of equipment needed to conduct our operations. Below are the two models we are weighing our options on. A decision will be made next week as to which unit we will be purchasing.

Our Klein System 3900 does a phenomenal job of getting us images of what’s under the waters surface yet too often we see items that we cannot be 100% certain what they are. It’s frustrating not knowing what these items may or may not be. A body underwater doesn’t always stand out clearly due to many factors. These factors can pose serious delays in locating a loved one and possibly avoid detection all together. This, we definitely want to avoid.

Sending a diver down isn’t always feasible. It would require more personnel, time and it’s more risky. Sending an ROV down to put ‘eyes’ on a target is more practical and safer. These machines are capable of deep depths, fast currents, zero visibility and save time.  Here is a good video example of what these can do. CLICK HERE

It’s no secret we are a nonprofit that operates with donations. We volunteer our time and resources but we need your help to purchase an ROV. Please consider any amount, no matter how large or small and know that you are helping make the difference for families who are missing a loved one.

“It is a denial of justice not to stretch out a helping hand to the fallen that is the common right of humanity.” — Seneca the Elder

Donations can be made online here: DONATE

Seamore ROV Seamore ROV

Underwater Ice Search & Recovery for Andy Kingsbury in Winona

Tuesday, January 7th, and Wednesday, January 8th, we were in Winona, MN on the Mississippi River to conduct an underwater ice recovery search for Andrew Kingsbury. He has been missing since early Sunday morning. He is presumed drowned after being in the same SUV that crashed into the river and through the ice, leaving 3 others drowned. The driver, Christina Hauser and front seat passenger, Matthew Erickson where still buckled in the seats when the SUV was pulled from the river. The third passenger, Blake Overland was located Monday, about 75 feet from where the vehicle was, with an ROV used by Carver County personnel.

Conditions were frigid to say the least. We worked in temperatures -15 below, plus wind. On the first day, we found out the sonar doesn’t operate when it’s too cold. We were getting a system error about the ambient temperature being too cold. We called the sonar manufacturer and even they had no experience with this error before. It’s not typical to run the sonar under ice but we were determined to make this work. Once we had a heater running in a tent and let the TPU/Brain Box-portion of the side scan sonar warm up, we were able to start the system and operate.

Knowing that the sonar would be an immense challenge under the ice, we discussed possible scenarios to make sure we would get clear images during our operation. We decided our best option was to use chainsaws to cut a gap in the ice large enough our sonar cable could fit. The sonar towfish would be tethered by a rope to be run back and forth under the ice by 2 people. We could raise and lower the towfish to allow for different angles of view.

We proved we have a system that works to run sonar under the ice; assuming it’s thick enough to stand on. Many factors are in play when trying to get sonar imaging and the image quality we were seeing was solid. The problem we have, is the fact we were not able to find Andrew.

Our assessment after covering the area from the location of the car to the bridge, is that he is not there. The current under the ice is very strong and there is a strong possibility he is being pushed with this current.

Our plan is to go back Saturday, the 11th, assuming we have some warm weather as expected the next couple days. Down stream past the bridge, there was about 150 yards of open water. We hope this will open up some more, so we can place a boat in the water to run the side scan sonar. According to knowledgable Winona Dive team members, Tim and Judd say there is an eddy that forms in this area. This eddy could play to our favor.

The Winona County Sheriff department personnel have been phenomenal to work with as they have been in the past. Sheriff Brand is pro-active and determined to exhaust all resources. We can’t say this is the case all the time with other agencies in other states and counties. For some reason, they get territorial and this only inhibits productivity and helping the families get the resolution they deserve.

More credits go to Tony Yaeger and Bob Carpenter. They put in crazy hard work, cutting over 450′ of ice the first day. Bob then goes home that night and builds a device to assist in cutting through the ice with less effort. His handy invention proved to be greatly efficient the 2nd day!

Rob Pawluk, Nolan and Mike from the Olmsted County dive team helped tremendously with search efforts. They were getting quite a workout running the sonar towfish back and forth all day so we could get imaging.

The Winona Firemen helped the 2nd day running the towfish and cutting ice. Their job description certainly varies from day-to-day!

To the Kingsbury family our thoughts are with you. Your appreciation of our efforts is why we do what we do. Simply by your outward thanks and praise we will have no problems coming back to help any way we can. We hope we can help bring some closure so your wonderful family can get past this tragedy and start the healing process. You simply cannot plan for something like this and we will be there for anything you may need.

We hope to have a positive update to this case after saturday.

Search and Recovery ROV

We have mentioned we are currently seeking donations specifically to purchase an ROV -Remotely Operated Vehicle. Having an ROV to assist in search and recovery operations without furthering human risk, will be a huge asset. ROVs have been used widely to aid first responders in recovering drowning victims throughout the world.

We’ want to display some images to help you understand what they look like. The below model is currently favored for the type of operations we conduct.

We were at a trade show in Orlando Florida this past October for s scuba diving convention. There were a hand full of companies attending who made ROV’s and two models were available in a large pool where we could demo the models. The technology is impressive considering what type of underwater elements can be navigated. 3-4 knots of current can be managed with certain models depending on the thrusters installed.

Additional options include side scan sonar and grappling arms. The sonar is a necessity in darker waters where visibility is limited. Imagine driving your car blindfolded. That’s what it’s like scuba diving and driving an ROV. Having the sonar allows you to steer in the direction of the object that is reflecting back a signal-converted to a sonar image on the screen. Once close enough to the object, hopefully visibility is such where the ROV camera allows the driver to get a good look at the object. From there it’s possible the object can be identified if it’s unknown.

David Allen Hartke Search and Recovery

David Allen Hartke UTV Lake Ponderosa Montezuma IowaDavid Allen Hartke UTV Lake Ponderosa Montezuma Iowa













By JoDee Brooke of the Banner Journal

        Bruce’s Legacy Director Keith Cormican and fellow diver Ed Davis wasted no time in heading to Montezuma, IA, to assist in the recovery of a 57-year-old man who had gone through the ice on Lake Ponderosa while riding his UTV. The man and a fellow fisherman friend were headed back off the ice Saturday (Dec. 14 around dusk. The first machine made it to shore. The second machine was following behind when the front end of the UTV dropped through the ice about 100 yards from shore. The two friends grabbed hands as the machine fell into 14 feet of water.

“There is no dive team in that county,” explained Cormican. “From what we were told, the 9-1-1 call came in around 6:30 p.m. The first dive team from two counties away arrived around 10 p.m.  They only had a couple of divers trained for ice diving, which in this case by now was a recovery.”

Two other dive teams showed up by Sunday and continued searching until Monday. They had located the UTV but not the fisherman.

A friend of the family contacted Cormican Monday morning conveying the initial dive teams had done all they could do. Poweshiek County Emergency contacted another dive team from southern Iowa. Team members arrived from Red Oak, IA, Monday afternoon.

“I knew the body had to be within 20 feet of where he went through,” explained Cormican. “I talked with members of the other dive teams, and they explained they had little visibility and almost none once they stirred by bottom of the lake. In any ice conditions, there should be some visibility if they just swim along the bottom.”

Emergency management placed a call to Cormican Tuesday morning asking him if he could assist. Cormican and Davis arrived later Tuesday afternoon after traveling icy roads and coming upon semis in the ditch.

“I kept thinking, they’re going to call any minute and tell us they found him.”

“I talked to the other divers when we got there,” said Cormican. “We knew the UTV ‘dirt-darted’ into the dirt. The other divers had opened a door on the UTV and found nothing, all the while thinking it was a two-seater. They told me they’d cleared, which means no one was in the vehicle.”

Cormican said he has a real hard time going to sleep at night until he’s recovered any body he’s been called to help recover. As he continued gathering information, he noticed a UTV similar to the one the victim had been riding. It had four doors and a back seat. He also remembered one of the earlier divers saying they’d seen an ice auger in the back seat.

“They had only cleared the front seat,” explained Cormican. “Tuesday night, they went back out there, and we found him in the back seat of his UTV. The water’s force pushed him into the back seat and prevented

him from being able to get out.”

“It was a sad deal,” shared Cormican. “the family had to go through a lot. The divers exhausted themselves and they could have died. A lot was learned, though.”

“If we wouldn’t have gone down there, those other divers would have been packed up and gone home,” Cormican said. “We’re just there to help these dive teams.  We’re not there to take anything away from any other divers. You learn over the years. I’ve been there, but you learn.”

Cormincan said the ice thickness of five inches probably wasn’t thick enough to sustain the machines’ weight.

Bruce’s Legacy continues to seek donations to help fund an ROV -remotely operated vehicle.

Utilizing an ROV will allow for the deployment of a machine into the depths instead of a diver. This method is safer and more often less time-consuming. This efficiency is important when trying to cover a body of water. It’s also crucial to know exactly what questionable objects are so divers can be certain what the objects are.


Ice Fisherman’s Body Found – David Allen Hartke

The search for David Allen Hartke,  who fell through the ice on Lake Ponderosa near Montezuma ended successfully with his recovery Tuesday evening.

David Allen Hartke Ice Fisherman Found

According to Chris Widmer, chief, Montezuma Volunteer Fire Department, divers located David Allen Hartke, 57, Grundy Center, at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. Hartke reportedly fell through a weak spot in the ice on Lake Ponderosa while ice fishing Saturday evening, Dec. 14. The Ranger and ice hut he was using also fell into the lake.

The initial dive teams had located both the Ranger and the hut Saturday night, but the Ranger was resting on its roof in approximately 14 feet of water.

After four days of divers searching the area, they located Hartke inside the Ranger after they were able to roll the vehicle over.

“The search wouldn’t have ended successfully without the help of the divers who volunteered their time,” Widmer said. Dive teams from Johnson County Metro Dive Team and the Central Iowa Underwater Search and Rescue team arrived on the scene on Saturday evening. Divers with the Midwest Regional Dive Team continued the search on Monday.

Bruce’s Legacy, a not-for-profit search and recovery organization from Wisconsin arrived Tuesday evening and will remove the Ranger from the lake Wednesday.

“The overwhelming support of area volunteer firefighters, the Lake Ponderosa community and area businesses were invaluable throughout the four days,” said Trisha Rooda, Poweshiek County Emergency Management Coordinator.

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