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Harris Sonars Help Find Drowning Victims

Early in December, Massachusetts State Police divers recovered the bodies of a sixteen year old boy and a twenty year old young woman who accidentally drowned in Great South Pond, Plymouth. The two victims and two other young men who survived were out on the pond in a canoe after dark without any life preservers. Because the night was very dark and the two survivors were hospitalized and unable to provide any helpful information to locate the victims, the search teams had a difficult task. As is often the case when young people are involved in tragic accidents, there was a large turn-out of police and fire dive teams to help the Plymouth Fire Department. Conditions at the 300 acre pond were difficult; the water temperature was close to forty degrees and the visibility on the mud and silt bottom was only four to six feet. Traditional search methods were unsuccessful as the divers searched, often times by touch.

Harris had brought DLS-1 and DLS-3 sonars to the scene. We had trained some members of the state police team on our hand held sonars both here in Massachusetts and at an FBI dive course in Los Angeles for just this reason. We felt it was very possible that a situation would arise that our equipment could make a difference.

The remains of the young man were located during the first dive with our sonar. The next afternoon, the State Police returned to the water with one of our sonars. Within ten minutes the body of the young woman was returned to the surface from forty feet of water. The recovery was complete.

There can be no joy in a tragedy such as this. However, we can feel proud that our equipment made a difference in helping bring closure to the families and friends of the victims.