Archives for January 2014

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.

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