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Front Page » August 3, 2006 » Local News » Rescuers continue search to recover missing child
Published 3,011 days ago

Rescuers continue search to recover missing child


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher


Frank Pugliese helps guide a pontoon boat on Price River as Mona McGinnis and the handler's dog, Minnie, focus on finding a trace of young Jayden Seal. The search expanded from the Garley Canyon area on Tuesday to as far as 40 miles down the Price River after attempts on Monday failed to turn up any signs of the 1-year-old. The child was lost when his parents' vehicle was swept away by a flash flood in the Consumers area on July 30.

As Tuesday dawned, the area near old Pinnacle Canyon School was abuzz with searchers who have spent almost two days looking for Jayden Seal, the little boy who was swept out of a sport utility vehicle by a flash flood above Garley Canyon on July 30.

By day's end, the search for the 1-year-old child had expanded almost 30 miles downstream, yet the effort yielded little more than just relics of the accident.

A tire from the Bronco struck by a 20-foot wall of water was spotted near where Carbon Avenue passes across the Price River. Children's toys were also found by emergency crews as far south as Wellington, where the search ended Tuesday evening.

"We intend to continue to look until we have some resolution," said Carbon County Sheriff Capt. Guy Adams on the morning of Aug. 1. "This is important to the family and the community."

The tragedy has resulted in a partnership of public safety entities and individuals dedicated to finding Jayden.

Emery Sheriff Lamar Guymon has helped by bringing in manpower, equipment and the county's homeland security grant purchased motor home as a command center to the staging area for all the searchers.

Jeremy Johnson hovers overhead in his helicopter as Frank Pugliese, Kyle Kulow, Tiffany Hansen and Ron Bogdin stand ready to guide the boat that Mona McGinnis and her dog Minnie will take to look for Jayden Seal.

In addition, Duchesne County has sent personnel as well as a dogs with handlers to search for the little boy.

On Monday, Utah County Search and Rescue sent personnel to assist in the local search effort. Later that day, the Utah County team was searching near their home base for a missing rock climber at Lone Peak near Alpine.

One unique commitment to the endeavor has come from a man who has had little to do with Carbon County in the past. But the volunteer has committed a great deal of resources to the resolution of the problem.

Jeremy Johnson hails from St. George and became fairly well known last year when the Santa Clara and Virgin rivers were overflowing when he used his helicopter to rescue trapped people and to carry explosives to blow up log jams in various streams.

Johnson provided his services free gratis during the southern Utah emergency and the St. George native flew to Price on Tuesday morning with his machine to help with the local search.

"I just think it is right to help out when people need it," said Johnson. "I'm just glad I can come up and give a helping hand."

And then there are friends and family members. People who know the Seal family and relatives have put in many hours wading through the muck in washes and the Price River looking for signs of the little boy.

The search command post and staging area at the old Pinnacle Canyon Academy has been well utilized over the past few days.

"The water and mud are enough, but the mosquitoes are killers out here," said Nick Pantalakis as he stood by a pickup truck after wading a couple of miles through the river with Jason Byrge, Rob Kollar, John McCurdy (who brought his dog Red) and Randy Bishop, one of Jayden's grandfathers. They had all just experienced a hard rain storm and were standing in messy, slick mud near Lower Miller Creek Road, south of Wellington.

Red milled around in the mud until McCurdy started to break out the snacks for lunch. A wax paper rolled container of crackers nearly slid off the tailgate and Red was ready for them, but McCurdy snatched them away.

"Those are for us," he said to Red, who at the time was on a leash but had done his share of searching in the late morning by swimming around in the river. As the group began to eat, they discussed the conditions in the river. They said they hoped to find something later in the day on another section of the waterway.

At almost the same time back at the staging area, plans were being made to go back out on the river after lunch. The meal had brought most the searchers in and then a hard rainstorm had kept them there with fears that it might make the water rise in the steams in which they had been searching that morning.

It was decided that when the search resumed, a section of river with a big log jam in it between Price and Wellington would need to be examined more closely.

One team was to hike into the river from Highway 6 near the Church of Christ, while the other team would go up river via a series of dirt roads that ran across railroad tracks and through pastures that were muddy from the rain earlier in the day. That second team would take a pontoon boat that had been brought in by Emery County and a handler and dog would be used over the front of the bow to examine the river.

"We have done searches in a number of states," said Mona McGinnis about herself and her dog, Minnie, as she rode toward the launch site. "We even spent a good deal of time at the Salt Lake County landfill looking for Lori Hacking. Some of the people in charge there didn't believe much in using dogs, but our girls showed them where she was."

McGinnis, who lives in Duchesne, said that her dog is very sensitive and has helped in searches across Utah as well as in Idaho and New Mexico.

Jason Byrge, Rob Kollar, John McCurdy, Randy Bishop, Nick Pantelakis and Red, take a rest after a rainy afternoon in the Price River just upriver from the PRWID treatment plant in Wellington.

"A few years ago a guy jumped off the Starvation Reservoir bridge and we were put in a boat to look for his body," she related as the vehicles sloshed down pasture roads made muddy by the heavy downpour earlier in the afternoon. "We had her at the front of the boat and every time we passed over the area where he was she would quit whining. We finally found him because of that."

Tuesday afternoon Les Wilberg from Emery County, Kyle Kulow, Ron Bogdin, Greg Louder, Frank Pugliese and Stacy Hansen pulled the boat into the Price River and got ready to coast toward the log jam.

A few minutes later McGinnis and Minnie were loaded on the boat and readied to head down the river to meet up with the hiking search party at the log jam where Minnie would put her talents to use.

When the boat started to move with the current and five search and rescue people pushing and guiding it, the 8-year-old Minnie immediately went to work with her nose and head hanging just a few inches above the water. She looked like a figurehead on an old seagoing wooden sailing ship.

As the day neared its end, searchers along the river gathering up tools, and their dogs could be seen walking along the railroad tracks along Highway 6 towards waiting vehicles. It had been a long day, with little to show for their efforts but more river and ground covered.

On Wednesday morning, searchers once again went out and some were returning to an area between Price and Wellington where one of the dogs picked up something and the searchers were interested in pursuing it.

But many of the organized search parties in the area were also concerned about something else they have seen; people going out on their own and looking for remains.

"We want to discourage people from going out and looking on their own," said Adams on Wednesday morning. "With the weather the way it has been, high water could arrive quickly in many of the areas we are searching. We are in constant radio communication with all of our search parties, but if someone is out there on their own, they may not know about a threat. We just don't want to be looking for someone else, too."



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