Sonar technology aides as weather deters teen’s search

The use of sound is helping divers navigate and detect objects under water at Deerfield Lake, all in hopes of finding Justin Lewis.

Sound from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ sonar — Toefish — is helping water rescue team divers see 66 feet below the lake’s water. A signal is sent back to the boat through a fiber optic cable which downloads an image to the boat’s computer.

“The computer shows us an image of what might be there on the bottom,” said Conservation Officer Supervisor Brian Meiers, with SD Game, Fish & Park.

“We’re covering quite a bit of the lake,” said diver Brian Povandra. “We’ve got sonar out here that is hitting on points and sending our divers down to confirm what that point is that they’re seeing on the sonar.”

So far the 17–member diver team has found a boat, a car and several tires but no sign of the 15–year–old kayaker.

Nor is Mother Nature providing them much help.

“The wind is making the job harder, Povandra said.” “We’ve had a couple of the thunderstorms roll through in the last few days which has made the water very turbulent, very, very unclear. It’s difficult to see.”

Still, divers and the search and rescue team aren’t giving up hope, even as efforts move into a third week. They say the main image they’re focused on is finding Justin.


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