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Fire chief speaks about difficulty of dive search for missing woman

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Mid-Missouri authorities searching the Lamine River for Mengqi Ji Elledge who was reported missing in October.


Divers with the Mid-Missouri Sheriff's Dive Team continued their search for missing Columbia woman Mengqi Elledge Tuesday.

They have been searching the Lamine River in Cooper County. They first searched the area on Nov. 26.

Jack Brade is chief of the Regional West Fire Protection District. He did not assist in the search for Elledge, but he is experienced with diving searches.

He said continuing the search is one way to try and provide closure for Elledge's family.

"Anything that they can find can help put together what happened. And then if they can recover the missing person that gives the family something to put closure to," Brade said.

Elledge has been reported as missing since Oct. 8, but Brade said there could still be hope that divers find Elledge.

Divers have been to the Les Bourgmont access to the Lamine River twice. Brade said searching in bodies of water that move can pose more difficulties.

"With rivers and water that is moving, depending on the speed that it's moving and the size of the river or creek, whatever it may be, there can be items rolling down in that water," he said. "Tree stumps, tree limbs, different things coming down through there."

"When something is in the river when it's in moving water if it is moved by the water it will continue to move until it comes against something that will stop it," he said.

He said moving water also makes it very difficult to see.

"Visibility normally in moving water is zero. Diving conditions in moving water are probably the most difficult diving conditions that they can meet," he said.

Brade said it would still be more difficult than diving in water that is not moving with zero visibility because there is a current pulling you.

"The difficulty of diving in moving water is one that is not just physical but it's also mental because of the zero visibility, and the movement, the constant movement and bumping into things," he said.

Brade said moving water can also move evidence or a body. He also said the cold weather can impact these types of searches.

"The cooler weather is going to make it a better search in some senses, but it's also going to be more physically demanding on the rescuers that are trying to bring this to a close," he said.

Divers will continue the search for Elledge on Wednesday morning.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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