Searchers unsuccessful in locating missing Dayton man
June 5, 2003
Divers will return to a spot where search dogs reacted Wednesday in their hunt for missing 19-year-old swimmer Ben Maxwell.
The spot is about 200 feet from where Maxwell was last seen struggling near some debris Monday night, according to Sgt. Tom VanDalinda of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ll be out here until we find him,” vowed VanDalinda.
It was the second full day of searching for Maxwell, whom witnesses say was sucked under the murky water when he jumped in to retrieve his dog.
A search dog, divers and Lyon County Search and Rescue crews were unsuccessful Tuesday after scouring the river 5.7 miles from Highway 50 East on Fort Churchill Road in Dayton.
Midday Wednesday, deputies loaded a duffel bag with 12 sacks of 120 pounds of potatoes to gauge the river’s current.
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“This supposedly will have a similar buoyancy to a human body, and we are putting it in the current where (Maxwell) was last seen and follow its path,” said Lt. Allen Veil of the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department.
The duffel bag was carried for about 10 minutes before it was caught in a sand dune a quarter-mile from the launching point.
Two Division of Wildlife agents followed the bag’s progress by personal watercraft, marking the areas where it became snagged.
A cadaver dog and its handler, Lotten Fahraeus of Wilderness Finders Search Dogs, revisited the areas where the duffel bag was caught as friends and family of the missing man watched from the shore.
“We’ll be back out here tomorrow morning making a new game plan,” he said.
Hasty Team divers who searched Sunday and Monday are expected to resume the effort once a location is pinpointed, Veil said.
Maxwell was swimming in the river with friends Monday evening when he began to tire at about 7 p.m. 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.
About a year ago, Maxwell’s father, Craig Maxwell, donated steel and time to erect an indestructible memorial cross for 9-year-old Krystal Steadman of Lake Tahoe, who was abducted, raped, and murdered in 2000.
The cross, 8-feet tall and standing on the eastbound shoulder of Highway 50 West 2 miles from Carson City, was painted by Ben Maxwell, said Gary James, the memorial’s caretaker.
“They went above and beyond what I ever expected,” James said of the Maxwells’ participation.
Dan Garza, shop superintendent of Blue Mountain Steel where Craig Maxwell is a foreman, has set up an account in Ben Maxwell’s name at Bank of America to help offset expenses the family may incur.
“We felt like we had to help,” Garza’s wife, Sheila, said. She said her family became acquainted with Ben Maxwell last summer when he painted her home. “We’re all in shock. He’s such a good kid.”
YOU CAN HELP:
Ben Maxwell Fund
Bank of America
Account No. 004966305573