Lake Sakakawea Search & Recovery of Scott Eagle ~August 1st, 2013
We received a call from Jon Borreson late Wednesday evening, July 31st about a man who fell overboard while boating Tuesday evening. Jon was a member on the Jackson County Dive Unit and knew what we started with the Bruce’s Legacy nonprofit. He said the yacht he typically captains, was being used as the incident command center for the operation taking place to locate the drowned victim, Scott Eagle.
After a couple phone calls and confirmations, the decision was made Thursday, August 1st at 10am to drive to New Town, ND with our equipment (minus our boat) to recover the missing person. We asked that our travel expense be reimbursed at $.50/mile and the people in charge agreed this was more than fair.
Note: The incident occurred on the local Indian reservation of ‘Three Affiliated Tribes’ and Mr. Eagle was a tribal council member.
After a 12 hour drive we arrived in New Town at 12am, Aug. 2nd and we checked into our hotel rooms for a couple hours of sleep. We were scheduled to meet with the local law enforcement agencies and tribal members in charge for a debriefing at 7:30am. By 9:30 we had our gear set up on a pontoon boat, headed to the location law enforcement had pinpointed as the location of the 911 call made the night of the incident.
Within 35 minutes of using our side scan sonar, we had located the body. Our sonar settings indicated the victim was in about 50 feet of water, laying face down. When we showed the images to the people on the boat and later at the mission control, everyone was amazed at the imaging detail that our system offers.
As there was no local dive team, Keith suited up and entered the water to recover the body. Once the body was brought to the surface, law enforcement handled the body from this point forward. We recovered our gear and returned to the mission control center for debriefing.
Everyone was extremely thankful and appreciative of our work. They knew we needed to drive another 12 hours to get back home and wanted us to stay another night. We had to refuse staying, due to work commitments the following day. So, they insisted we stay for a presentation and we agreed to meet at 5pm in a conference room. In the conference room were all the law enforcement agents we had worked with, some tribal members and the family of the late Scott Eagle. (Approximately 30 people in total)
Claryca Mandan made a statement about Mr. Eagle; the efforts of all involved and then asked us to join her standing up front. Ms. Mandan and the tribes’ women presented us each, with 2 of the most beautiful Pendleton blankets and handmade quilts we had ever seen. They told us it was their way of sending someone off on a journey that has helped and touched them. They also presented us with a very generous donation that will go a long way in helping other families.
We were in utter astonishment of the praise and appreciation they had for our efforts and service. It made the 12 hour drive back home less painful and completed with a smile of satisfaction.
This is exactly why, we do what we do!
Our thoughts are with the Eagle family and 3 Affiliated Tribes.
A special thanks to Jon Borreson & Damon Kennedy for alerting us, Russell Thomas & Claryca Mandan for keeping us abreast with great information so we could prepare, Fred Poitra for driving the boat and his humor, Marle Baker for excellent incident management and everyone else who assisted in making the search and recovery of Scott Eagle a success!