‘Drowning event’ scenarios explored in search for Pocatello teen - East Idaho News

‘Drowning event’ scenarios explored in search for Pocatello teen

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POCATELLO — Despite a “valiant, sustained effort” by multiple agencies, the hunt for 16-year-old Jayden Jensen of Pocatello will roll into its fourth full day, officials say.

The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office once again updated the public on the status of the search via social media Saturday night. After saying recovery efforts for the day were unsuccessful, officials went on to explain two likely scenarios search and rescue teams have been operating by since Jayden went into the water on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’d like to explain and update on some of the operational side of our efforts,” officials said.

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The scenarios are as follows:

Scenario 1

Jayden stayed in his neoprene chest waders with attached rubber boots. That would make his feet highly buoyant in comparison to the rest of his body — like his ankles had life jackets on them but the rest of his body didn’t.

In a “drowning event,” officials say the waders would likely keep Jayden on or near the water’s surface. Factoring in the water current and wind direction, there is “an infinite number of outcomes” as to where Jayden may have ended up. As a result, pinpointing a location to focus the search on is almost impossible.

Air Rescue Chopper
Courtesy of the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office

“The best technique available for this scenario is searching any shoreline or extremely low areas with the naked eye, drones, low flying aircraft, helicopters and by boat near the water’s edge,” the post reads.

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Officials note they have been using all these techniques, even overlapping them as much as possible. This approach will continue, they say.

SAR boat
Courtesy of the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office

Scenario 2

In the second scenario, Jayden was freed from his neoprene chest waders at the time of the accident.

“This is the information we received and originally acted on,” officials note in the update, “but the waders were never seen or recovered.”

In this scenario, Jayden would sink to the bottom after a “drowning event.” Any current and water conditions — both as he sank and near the bottom — would affect where he would go after that, according to officials.

The search method used for this scenario is making overlapping passes with multiple boats and “all things sonar.” The Sheriff’s Office likens it to mowing and then cross-mowing your lawn.

Teams use Side Scan — a specialized sonar technology. Divers enter the freezing water whenever sonar imagery presents a “target” that could be the teen.

Air Rescue Chopper and Searcher
Courtesy of the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office

“These techniques were applied in close proximity of the location of the accident, and have now been applied in a more broad approach,” the update reads.

Crews will continue with a similar search plan on Sunday, the update says.

The difficult task has been made more so by weather conditions. Teams have been battling an ice shelf on the southern portion of American Falls Reservoir, especially the east side, they report. Water temperatures are in the 30s, and high winds hindered search efforts on Thursday.

“We are also operating in thousands of acres of water that is only one to three feet deep,” officials say.

The Jensen family reportedly once again joined crews in the field.

“They joined us for meals today after they, too, put the work in,” the update says. “They are a strong, humble and determined group of people.”

The search is a joint effort of Bingham County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue, Power County Search and Rescue and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which provided “an added cadaver K9.” Air Idaho Rescue was on site Saturday, but it is unclear if they will join the effort again on Sunday.

Bingham County Truck
Courtesy of the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office