November 21st and 22nd we traveled to Hampton Iowa to look for the missing man, Eathan Kazmerak. Once we arrived back home our post processing produced a target of interest. The shape in the sonar imaging too closely resembled that of a body.
Phone calls and emails were relayed with Story County in Iowa to go over to the pond and dive. However the cold weather produced enough ice on the ponds surface they were not able to dive the pond. They didn’t have enough divers certified in ice diving. We felt strongly enough to make the 8 hour roundtrip back to Iowa and dive ourselves rather than wait until spring for the ice to thaw.
Arrangements were made with local law enforcement for an enclosed trailer to be heated. Given the low temperatures this helps tremendously while suiting up for a dive below the ice.
Hampton Chief of Police Mr. Schaeffer, Franklin County Sheriff Richtmeier, and Franklin County EMA Coordinator Mr. Craighton helped make the necessary arrangements and stood on the ice with us the entire time. A testament to their dedication and fortitude to help the Kazmerak family. It wasn’t exactly 75 degrees and sunny on 7 inches of ice.
Using GPS coordinates from the original sonar image, we placed ourselves in the general vicinity of the intended target. Then a triangle was cut in the ice with a chainsaw to allow access for the diver. Using a search and recovery designed ‘search pod’ below the ice, on the pond bottom; helped facilitate search patterns. Our pictures don’t have the search pod visible but this device works extremely well.
Keith suited up to make the dive. After coming upon some concrete blocks, it was assumed this was the object we were after. Concrete blocks sound less than exciting however it still provides hope for the family Ethan will return home and clears our conscience that it wasn’t a body that we left behind in late November.
Our sonar equipment is phenomenal and the images are equally fantastic. Yet, we come across so many objects that are intriguing but we cannot ascertain exactly what they are. These are sonar images; not digital images like that of your camera. That is why we are actively seeking donations to help fund an ROV -Remotely Operated Vehicle.
Utilizing an ROV will allow us to deploy 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 crucial to know exactly what these questionable objects are so we can be certain it’s not the victim or evidence we are after.
If you would like more information about our organization feel free to contact us.