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Volunteer searchers suffer damages on the river Tuesday

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Mark Michaud, Keith Cormican, and Brandi Brignac with the diving robot (photo by Thomas Parker)

The Mighty Mississippi flexed her muscle on the brave search and rescue crews that have been searching the river for Zeb Hughes and Gunner Palmer since their disappearance on Dec. 3, 2020.

The unforgiving river damaged a propeller and sophisticated piece of sonar equipment called a tow fish that belongs to a nonprofit organization called Bruce’s Legacy.

Brandi Brignac with Mercy Search and Rescue said that after many trips and several days on the river with her highly trained K-9’s and the help of her friend Mark Michaud, master diver and founder of Southeast Louisiana Underwater Search and Recovery, they decided it was time to call in additional resources.

A broken propeller was the cheapest of the damage suffered Tuesday (photo by Thomas Parker)

Mark reached out to Keith Cormican and Gary George at Bruce’s Legacy to assist with their expertise and sophisticated equipment. Cormican founded Bruce’s Legacy in honor of his late brother, a first responder, who drowned in a recovery effort.  In the seven years that Bruce’s Legacy has been involved in search and rescue, they have performed 33 successful recoveries.

The tow fish sends sonar data back to search pros on the boat (photo by Thomas Parker)

In addition to the tow fish, which scans the river bed and sends back sonar data to the boat, the team also brought along a diving robot that can be remotely controlled from the safety of the boat.  The robot eliminates the need for a human diver to perform the actual recovery, which is invaluable in waters as dangerous as the Mississippi River.

No good deed goes unpunished, as the saying goes, and the teams suffered over a thousand dollars in damage to their equipment on their first day joining the search for Hughes and Palmer.

All of the organizations mentioned in this article are non-profits that operate solely on donations.  If you would like to contribute, or help them recoup the cost of the damages, you can click here for more information.

Thomas Parker contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2021 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News