MOUNT VERNON — Hundreds of searchers, organized by Knox County Emergency Management and the American Red Cross of Knox County, gathered this morning at the movie theater parking lot on Upper Gilchrist Road to be organized into teams and deployed.
Get audio from the press conferences, see images of the investigation and search, a map of key events and related stories.
At the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, around 80 Canine officers with their dogs were briefed and deployed by Deputy EMA Director Matt Sturgeon.
According to Knox County EMA Director Brian Hess, the 300 volunteer searchers were organized into teams. Each team was assigned a leader, many of whom were volunteer firefighters and off-duty police officers, as well as a medic who would be available to handle any injuries the searchers may endure.
Warning about the rough terrain, the near freezing temperatures, rain, and cautioning the need for safety, Doug McLarnan of the Knox County Park District told the searchers to keep themselves safe, go slowly, and be very watchful.
“This is what makes Knox County unique, in that we have as many people who willingly came out when the weather’s like this, when there’s a life-safety issue,” Hess told the crowd.
The group was made up of civilians, police officers, firefighters and EMTs, and search and rescue experts such as the mounted search team which also does foot searches all over the state, such as today’s.
“We were asked to come,” Central Ohio Mounted Search Unit coordinator Cathy Gough said standing with some of the 12 members of her team who answered the call for assistance today.
“This is what our unit does. We want to help. We want to do this,” Gough said.
Volunteers from several counties were among the group awaiting their final assignments from Hess and their search team leaders.
Some of the volunteers were college students who had been excused from classes, such as Central Ohio Technical College student Charles Christopher who lives in Mount Vernon.
“I came to help out,” he said. “This is so sad for somebody to do that to other people. Hopefully, we can do something to help.”
The groups are expected to return by 2:30 or 3 this afternoon, according to Hess. He recommended anyone who would like to volunteer for future searches to call the EMA office later this afternoon at 740-393-6772.