December 3, 2016
Lake Waconia, Waconia, MN Update
At the beginning of this week, I had been notified by some friends/business associates of a missing man in Lake Waconia Minnesota by the name of Andrew Stifter. He was reported missing Saturday, November 26, 2016. I then received a phone call from Andrew’s wife Katie, on the following Thursday requesting our services to aid the search. We were then put in contact with the Carver County Sheriff Department. Beth and I then immediately headed out that same evening.
Friday morning, we met with the Sheriff and the Incident Commander to receive a full briefing. We were also pleased to meet with Katie and Andrew’s mother, as well as another friend, for additional information. We were prepared to launch but during a precheck, discovered that our sonar would not properly start. The Carver County Sheriff’s Department was gracious enough to let us into their well-equipped County Shop to troubleshoot the equipment. They have an extremely knowledgeable staff, including Dan Sullivan, who was able to troubleshoot and pinpoint our problem down to a connection on our sonar cable. We then contacted Klein Marine Systems and had them overnight a new cable from New Hampshire to our hotel.
We had heard from the local Sheriff’s Department, that they were also bringing in the St. Louis County Water Patrol with Sonar, ROV and Cadaver Dog Team. We worked with Tom Crossman and Dave Phillips, of the St. Louis Team on a previously successful case on Lake Superior, in October. We were very glad to work with them again.
We decided to start out the next morning checking the shallow water with our Lowrance System, while awaiting the delivery of our new cable. To our surprise, it arrived midmorning. The Sheriff’s team retrieved it from the hotel and had it delivered to us directly on Lake Waconia. After a quick installation, we began a full day of grid pattern searches with the Klein Sonar.
We worked simultaneously with the St. Louis County Department, to search and eliminate a large area that would logically contain a location for Andrew. The cadaver dogs showed some interest in a large weeded area. It was discussed that it would be best to bring in divers the following day, (Sunday) for that attempt. This would be the most effective way to search this grassy and weedy type of environment. The Carver County Dive Team dove on this area on Sunday and could not locate anything of interest.
Unfortunately, because we had covered all areas that would be reasonable for his location with our sonars, we closed out our portion of the search to head home.
The Carver County Sheriff, Jim Olson, and his staff were unquestionably an honor to work with. The openminded and resourceful decision to bring in willing specialists from other areas, such as ourselves, is commendable. True leadership, in every way, was clearly evident and a great experience to be of service too. Thank you to the entire Carver County Team.