Authorities disheartened after third day of fruitless searching
June 6, 2003
DAYTON — After an unsuccessful third day in the Carson River search for a Dayton man believed drowned, authorities say they are frustrated but resolved to continue.
“We don’t like to admit it, but we are getting a little bit discouraged. We’re slowly running out of options,” said Lt. Allen Veil of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. “But we’re not the type to give up. We’ll keep after it.”
Since Monday night when Ben Maxwell disappeared under the muddy waters, Lyon County Search and Rescue volunteers and sheriff’s deputies have been combing the river and banks 5.7 miles off Highway 50 East on Fort Churchill Road.
They’ve been on the water in boats loaned to them.
“The boat that we have is a very old, 12-foot aluminum, and we don’t have a motor for it or a gas tank. We had to borrow that,” Veil said. “The only boat that we have for search and rescue is a Boston whaler that was given to us, but it’s just too big for a river. A flat bottom boat would have been much preferable right here.”
Help from outside counties has come in the form of a search dog and Washoe County Hasty Team divers, but every day Veil, his men and Lyon County Search and Rescue members have walked along the shores of the river and pondered their next step.
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Thursday, divers revisited a spot a search dog had pointed to on Wednesday.
The water’s visibility is zero, Veil said, and the divers are relying solely on their sense of touch to search for the body of the 19-year-old.
The divers’ biggest struggle was maintaining their position in the fast-moving current.
“Rivers are bad,” said Washoe County Deputy Sheriff Tim Graham of the Hasty Team. “You can’t see a thing and you’ve got that constant tugging.”
At this point, Veil said, he isn’t sure what his next move is.
“Right now we’re just kicking around ideas and giving the dog another consideration if we can get it out here,” he said as the divers were wrapping up Thursday. “We’ll at least have a skeleton crew of search and rescue out here tomorrow. On Sunday, we’ll definitely have a full crew out.”
Maxwell was swimming in the river with friends Monday evening when he began to struggle near a cottonwood tree that had fallen across the river.
A female companion who tried to save him had him in her grasp when he was sucked under, Veil said.
YOU CAN HELP
If you have a boat you’re willing to donate to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office call 463-6620 and ask for Lt. Jeff Page.