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Havasu residents and businesses overwhelm searchers with support

September 6, 2018

It was late Tuesday afternoon when Mohave County Sheriff’s patrol boats made port at Topock 66. Dive team members carried their fins with them as they returned to the department’s mobile command center at the water’s edge. A Lake Havasu City businesswoman was waiting for them with dinner prepared.

As of Tuesday morning, only one of four victims missing since a Saturday boating accident had been located. According to Sheriff’s officials, the search area comprised the entirety of the Lower Colorado River, with efforts centered in Topock Gorge. By Tuesday afternoon, two more bodies were discovered. It was grisly work, but support has been growing for the county’s rescue workers. Burgers by the Bridge owner Harriet McLearen led efforts to support search crews early on, coordinating donations of food and water to search teams at the scene.

“They always come into Burgers by the Bridge to rest and eat,” McLearen said. “I knew they would need to eat, and decided to help.”

Local businesses including Jimmy John’s, Lin’s Little China, Ed’s Deli and others have joined MacLearen’s efforts.

“I put a request out on Facebook for help, and people came forward,” McLearen said. “(Lake Havasu City Councilman-Elect) Jim Dolan offered to buy lunch for them tomorrow. (Lake Havasu City Constable-Elect) Martin Standsberry brought snacks. I feel really good … these people are down here every day, and I’ve gotten coffee for them every morning at 5 a.m. from Starbucks. They’re doing an amazing job.”

Lin’s Little China owner Michele Lin provided dinner for deputies Tuesday afternoon, which was served by McLearen at the mobile command center.

“Whatever we can do to help, we won’t hesitate,” Lin said. “Harriet has been traveling back and forth from Havasu to Topock all week, and when she asked for help, we helped. I think (the accident) will affect the whole community – the lake is our livelihood. It’s tragic, but it’s brought us closer together as a community. To see so many people coming together, it gives me a warm feeling.”

Mohave County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Anita Mortensen was grateful for McLearen’s help during search crews’ efforts on the water.

“She became our point of contact for donations,” Mortensen said. “A lot of people were bringing in perishable items … at one point they were coming in so quickly that a lot of them would go to waste. Harriet stepped up, and she’s been absolutely amazing. The community as a whole has been absolutely amazing in its support.”

Mohave County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kyler Cox shared Mortensen’s appreciation for local businesses’ support on Tuesday.

“Burgers by the Bridge has delivered lunch for more than 70 people every day … the entire community has been awesome, and Topock 66 has been great in this tragic time. The community’s outreach and support has been tremendous.”

As of Tuesday evening, search teams were still attempting to locate the final victim of Saturday’s

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