On Friday the 24th , I traveled back to Gotham WI. I was met by one of the local wardens who volunteered to share his boat for the next two days. The Richland County EM coordinator, Darrin, along with volunteers Jim, Pat, and Mike, were again on hand as they have been every day that I have been here. We collected more sonar images in the areas deemed most likely to render results. But the afternoon rain came in and unfortunately cut our day a little short. This gave me more opportunity to sit in the motel room to review all of our images multiple times. Sadly, there was nothing of interest showing up with the sonar search. I kept going over past sonar images and still nothing new.
On Saturday we meet at the boat landing again with the same guys. My plan was to put the ROV in and check more of the tree and the brush piles that are underwater. The Remote Operated Vehicle is operated from the boat or from the shore and is equipped with lights and an HD camera, which allows us to see what is on the bottom without getting wet. This cost of the system is $85,000.00 and with the combination of possible snags and current, there is always the risk of getting the ROV hung up, which I did. With the help of the folks in the other two boats, we did succeed in freeing the equipment each time it was hung up. Again, we found nothing.
Angela has been missing now for about 20 days. I have spent 7 of those days on the river with many volunteers in hopes of bringing a tiny bit of comfort to a desperate family. Many of the local volunteers have spent many more days assisting in the recovery efforts, and local’s Pat and Mike have spent every day doing shoreline searches by boat. The county officials have poured a lot of resources into the search for Angela, including cadaver dogs, planes, a helicopter, a drone, dragging operations, and organized shoreline searches.
Rivers are the most difficult bodies of water in which to work. Poor visibility along with debris, make recoveries very complicated and sometimes the result does not align with our relentless desire for a recovery. During the searches, I have come to realize how important it is to keep the families up to date. The hardest part of what I do is to actually make that call to let someone know that we did not find their loved one. I can’t even begin to imagine what Angela’s mom and family are going through each day. She has been very understanding and grateful for what everyone is doing. I regret that I have not been able to offer them the solace that I so desperately wanted them to find during this time. Even though I realize it is not enough to compensate for their loss, the support of a great community will continue to wrap the family in comfort as everyone continues to support for this family.