Search for Mo. Highway Patrol now recovery effort
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
MOUND CITY, Mo. (AP) — Heartbroken law enforcement officers battled fast-moving floodwaters and extreme heat as they searched for the body of a missing colleague and his patrol dog who apparently were swept away in northwest Missouri.
Trooper Fred Guthrie Jr., 46, of Platte City, and his K-9, Reed, disappeared Monday while patrolling flooded lands near Big Lake in Holt County. A frantic rescue effort became a recovery mission early Tuesday when officials determined it was unlikely they had survived.
Many of the two dozen troopers and area law enforcement officers involved in the effort knew Guthrie and are determined to recover his body, patrol spokesman Sgt. Sheldon Lyon said.
“We need to find him, we want to find him very badly, especially for the family,” Lyon said Tuesday. “We are making very large effort to find the body today.”
Guthrie’s still-running truck, with a trailer attached, was found Monday on Missouri 118 northeast of Big Lake, part of the Missouri River flood plain that has been covered by floodwaters since June.
Lyon didn’t want to speculate about what might have happened to Guthrie and Reed but said the water rushing through the area can be deceptive.
“If you take a picture, you tend to think it’s stagnant water over a field,” he said. “In fact, a lot of the water is moving, with a strong current. In some places it’s very swift, very dangerous. We believe that somehow Fred got into that current and drowned.”
Guthrie, a 17-year patrol veteran, served in the Water Patrol Division within Troop A in Platte County. He was assigned a boat and trailer and patrolled the region, where many people still cannot return to their homes because of the floodwaters.
Lyon said Guthrie’s duties included hauling people to their flooded homes if they had an emergency, rescuing anyone who became stranded in the water and patrolling to ensure that valuable farm equipment left by homeowners is not stolen or vandalized.
Reed, a German Shepherd who served with the patrol for five years, was trained as a narcotics dog and protected officers who might become involved in confrontations, Lyon said.
Guthrie was a well-liked trooper who often participated in education programs about water safety. In 2007, he was honored for rescuing a woman who was clinging to a buoy in Smithville Lake after being thrown from her boat during a thunderstorm.
“I cannot express how neat a guy he was, how fun he was to work with,” Lyon said. “He had a fabulous personality. It’s a very sad thing that’s happened.”
Information from: WDAF-TV, http://www.wdaftv4.com