Search for missing boater nears third week

September 19, 2018

Nearly three weeks have passed since a fatal boating accident injured nine on the Colorado River. The remains of three victims in the crash were recovered from the river in as many days, but one remains missing and presumed dead.

Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies have worked alongside search and rescue volunteers in their attempts to locate 26-year-old California resident Raegan Heitzig. Sheriff Doug Schuster has publicly stated the search will not stop until Heitzig is found. According to Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Anita Mortensen, however, the process of finding Heitzig has been difficult.

“There are no updates,” Mortensen said Tuesday. “The search process remains the same as it has been, and the search will continue until we find something. There’s no area of more significance in the search than the others because the search area is so large. It makes things really difficult when there’s so much to look at.”

According to Mortensen, developments throughout Mohave County have caused the number of search volunteers to ebb from day to day. Crews will continue to sweep the Colorado River, and possibly Lake Havasu, until Heitzig is located.

The boating accident occurred Sept. 1, when two boats met in a head-on collision on the Colorado River near Pirate Cove Marina. The resulting impact ejected all occupants into the water. Victims Brian Grabowski, Christine Lewis and Kirra Drury were located within days of the accident, deceased. Grabowski was located about five miles away from the site of the crash, according to witness reports.

Divers from Mohave, San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties participated in the first week of the search, but diving operations have since been suspended. Mohave County deputies and volunteers continued this week to search the river’s top water and shoreline areas. Diving operations could resume if boat-towed sonar arrays locate Heitzig’s possible remains, Mortensen said. According to social media posts from Heitzig family friend Kelsey Low, Wisconsin-based nonprofit search organization Bruce’s Legacy will join the search if Heitzig is not located by Oct. 1.

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