Sonar Equipment Helps Locate Drowning Victims

North Texas search-and-rescue teams learn how to use equipment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    North Texas law enforcement agencies spent Wednesday on Lewisville Lake learning how to use sonar equipment on rescue boats for search and recovery efforts. (Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012)

    Some high-tech equipment is being used to help find drowning victims.

    North Texas law enforcement agencies spent Wednesday on Lewisville Lake learning how to use sonar equipment on rescue boats.

    The BMF Project, which aims to speed up the search-and-recovery process, brought in experts from Illinois to train local teams.

    The organization was started by Mike and Belinda Fugate, whose son, Brandon, drowned. The parents endured a lengthy search before they could say goodbye.

    "When he drowned, it took 29 days to recover him," Mike Fugate said. "When they were searching for my son, they had the best of the best doing it, but part of it was equipment -- not having enough equipment."

    "The sonar is vital for us to get within feet of what we are searching for," Lewisville Fire Capt. Don Scarborough said.

    He said most major North Texas lakes now have a rescue boat with sonar equipment, so training officials how to use the technology is crucial.

    "On a slow year, unfortunately, we will still have one to two drownings at the lake, and on a busy year, we have had as many as a dozen," Scarborough said.

    The Fugates said the technology speeds up recovery and gives families like them a little bit of closure.

    "He [Brandon] is looking down on all of us and smiling," Mike Fugate said.