Volunteers Use Sonar Boat to Search for Missing Passengers

While the mission was downgraded from a search and rescue to a recovery, the DMR and a number of volunteers are still searching for the plane wreckage and passengers of Monday’s crash. News 25’s Katarina Luketich takes us on a sonar boat, where a man from Slidell is doing all he can to help search for answers.
Pack Brian usually uses his sonar equipment to work on oil and pipeline projects, but today Brian and his team are doing something much different with it. They are helping search near Ingalls Shipbuilding for the wreckage and three passengers of Monday’s tragic plane crash. “I felt compelled to help the families, give them some closure. Perhaps help them locate their loved ones,” said Brian.
The call to help was heard by Brian after an emotional plea by the wife of a missing passenger. Pam Miletello said, “We just have to get them home. So, I plead with you, the public, to please get in your boats and make this happen. We need pieces of the plane. We need them.”
Volunteer searcher Joel Childs said, “If you don’t find the body, you don’t have closure and that’s what it’s all about. It’s the survivors that you’re doing it for.”
This team is using side-scan sonar to create an image of the seabed. The sonar transmits information to a GPS system. Should Brian detect anything, he can send divers to specific coordinates. The boat also has a magnetometer, which can alert him to any metal, such as the plane engine. The sonar boat just hit the water this morning and so far, nothing definitive. “We’re continuing to search. We’ve located a lot of objects on the bottom but we haven’t identified what they are,” said Brian.
Brian and other volunteers are looking in an area outside of the DMR search perimeter. The marine agency is also using sonar equipment and does not want civilian searches to interfere with any potential detection. Volunteers like Brian help extend the scope of the search and they don’t plan on leaving without some answers for the families of these three missing men. “Well, I plan to stay until they discontinue the search operations,” said Brian.
Again, if you locate any debris, please do not touch it and contact the DMR at 228-374-5000.

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