CINCINNATI, Ohio (WJHL) – Equusearch Midwest announced via Facebook on Monday that they would be coming back to Northeast Tennessee the weekend of July 24 to assist in the Search for Summer Wells.
“Dave Rader, Director of Equusearch Midwest, and our Team will be conducting searches the weekend of July 24th,” the post read in part. “As this is an ongoing investigation, if you see any of our teams out and about, please do not convey via social media or other outlets where you may have seen our searches taking place. It is very important for the integrity of the case.”
According to the group’s website, EquuSearch Midwest is a “search & recovery team that searches for missing persons across the midwestern United States.”
The Midwest group is a branch of the Texas Equusearch. It’s a volunteer-based nonprofit out of Texas and Ohio.
Rader spoke with News Channel 11 Monday and said the team first responded to assist in the search the Saturday after Summer was reported missing.
“We got a short phone call on Saturday evening at about 4, and I was actually in Tennessee by 11 o’clock that night,” Rader said.
Rader said the search for Summer Wells made an impact on his team, prompting their upcoming return to the area.
“We wanted to come back out,” Rader said. “A lot of our teammates are very invested in this and we just feel that everybody down there has done everything.. and they’re continuing to do so why no keep the bus rolling as I say and go out a little bit further, some fresh eyes, fresh people, let’s get this done.”
The group searches for “missing persons of all categories, including silver alerts, high risk & endangered,” according to their website. “We utilize searchers on foot, ATV, horseback, sonar, drone, and any other suitable technologies and methodologies needed. We also partner with other teams including K-9 units to help further our purpose.”
Equusearch Midwest makes use of several pieces of equipment in their efforts, including tools for water and the sky.
“We have a remote-controlled sonar unit that we can actually put into a retention pod or a small body of water and within 15-20 minutes, I can tell you exactly what’s in that body of water without having to put a diver in,” Rader said. “We’ve even got what is called ‘near infrared,’ which means that we can fly on a drone, we can actually tell if a piece of ground has been disturbed or not. If that comes to be where we need something like that or if I feel like we need to bring that in, that is available also.”
Rader told News Channel 11 that horses will not be used by the search team this weekend. Instead, they will use manpower on the ground and focus on specific areas. According to Rader, the area around the Wells home is not ideal for searching on horseback anyway.
“It’s very steep, a lot of downed trees,” Rader said. “I don’t think the horses would have been (beneficial) to us at all in this point in time.”
Crews are attempting to remain positive while the search continues, but Rader said other possibilities have to be considered at this stage.
“We also have to be realistic and look at the other end of the spectrum, and unfortunately, that’s where we come in to play as far as the recovery end,” he said.
Summer Wells was first reported missing from her family’s home in the Beech Creek community on June 15, and an Amber Alert was issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation the following day. As the search for Summer continues, anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.