Cold slows search for missing Mayfield teens

Associated PressJanuary 16, 2009 

LOUISVILLE — Search crews endured bitter cold Thursday as they resumed efforts to find two teen duck hunters from Western Kentucky who disappeared Saturday when their boat took on water from a sudden storm, killing one of the four occupants while another survived.

Harsh conditions delayed the launch of a small flotilla of boats that has scoured Kentucky Lake since the accident.

Marshall County search and rescue squad chief Carl Curtner said conditions Thursday morning were “treacherous,” with single-digit temperatures, thick fog and 3-foot waves stirred by northwesterly wind.

“Everything is coated in ice,” he said in a phone interview.

Rescuers reviewed sonar and GPS data to rule out some areas before resuming the search on the popular recreational haven in far Western Kentucky, said Marshall County Emergency Management Director Melissa Combs.

“It just wasn't safe to put them out there first thing,” she said.

Searchers have used sonar and underwater cameras to seek the two teens.

Search crews have grown to include numerous volunteers who are “taking off from work and leaving their families to come out here and find closure on this,” Curtner said. It is now a multistate effort, with people from Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Tennessee and Missouri, he said.

Curtner remained optimistic the missing teens would be found.

“That's what we do and we try to do our best, and that's our intent,” he said.

The tragedy has shaken the Mayfield area, home to the four young hunters. Relatives have kept a lakeside vigil during the search for McKenzie Stanley, 18, a senior at Mayfield High School, and Jacob Scott, 17, a senior at Graves County High School.

On Sunday, searchers found the body of Trevor Williams, 18, in Little Bear Creek on Kentucky Lake. Tyler Heathcott was rescued Saturday about 300 to 400 yards from shore.

Heathcott was released from Marshall County Hospital on Wednesday, a hospital operator said.

Searchers have found the boat along with hip waders, tennis shoes and some floating debris.

Curtner said weather was calm when the teens started their hunting excursion Saturday, but changed abruptly when a storm blew in and whipped up 3-to-5-foot waves. He said the boys were experienced hunters and boaters.

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