Tragedy leads to formation of dive team

Friday, September 12, 2014
Dive team members participate in a search earlier this year on the Buffalo River in Newton County. Submitted photo

In July 2013, after the drowning of free diver Michael Burton, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the Tri-County Search and Rescue team discussed the need for a dive team.

They reached this decision after spending approximately three weeks looking for Burton, exhausting several area dive teams and having to wait for other dive teams to respond because of schedules and traveling times.

In September 2013, Carroll County Sheriff's Office Capt. Alan Hoos, Lt. Michael Zimmerman, Deputy Troy Wenzel, Deputy D.J. Harlan and Tri-County Search and Rescue member Justin Hopper, started their dive training at C&J Sports on Beaver Lake. Team members quickly advanced to the rescue diver certification with two members going on to obtain instructor's certification in order to be able to train new team members.

The dive team falls under the umbrella of the Tri-County Search and Rescue team. The team is composed of members from Newton, Madison and Carroll counties. Carroll County was already attached to the Tri-County team because of the Mennonite Search and Rescue/Disaster Service team that provides a wide range of support and skills including ground searches, underwater imaging, sonar equipment and boat operations.

After the Burton search when the sheriff's office joined the Tri-County team, the Carroll County Special Operations Rescue Team (SORT) was also brought aboard. SORT is made up of volunteers from the community and offers a range of support including high/low angle rescue, swift water rescue, cave rescue, basic boat operations and ground searching.

Since the spring of 2014, the Tri-County/Carroll County Sheriff's Office Dive Team has been deployed on four missions. Two missions were in Newton County on the Buffalo River and two others were in Benton County. On the Benton County missions, the team helped when a 17-year-old male drowned in the Horseshoe Bend area of Beaver Lake and helped search for a missing swimmer in the Illinois River. During both missions, the team was "instrumental" in locating the missing persons.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: