Search ends for Nye

Posted May 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

Sheriff issues statement on search for LeRoy Nye

The following is a release from the Hand County Sheriff’s Office, and included the following comment: “We will not be doing any interviews, as this is about LeRoy, not us.”

The Civil Air Patrol plane landed at the Miller Municipal Airport to get coordinates before resuming the search for LeRoy Nye Wednesday, May 22. The CAP spotted the vehicle Wednesday night in southeastern Hand County. (Mike Caviness | The Miller Press)

The Civil Air Patrol plane landed at the Miller Municipal Airport to get coordinates before resuming the search for LeRoy Nye Wednesday, May 22. The CAP spotted the vehicle Wednesday night in northwestern Jerauld County. (Mike Caviness | The Miller Press)

On May 19, 2013, LeRoy Delmer Nye left his son’s home in St. Lawrence, S.D. No one in the family knew of his departure, nor expected it. At about 7 a.m., they discovered LeRoy and a vehicle owned by the son was gone. Tracks through the yard and at the driveway indicated that LeRoy left to the east on US Highway 14, and from there his travels are left to speculation.

What is known is that LeRoy was found near a small pond just west of Cottonwood Lake in northwestern Jerauld County on private property nearly 900 feet off the right-of-way and out of sight of passing vehicles.

The vehicle had been driven into the pasture and then became stuck in the mud. LeRoy attempted to free the vehicle, but could not. He set off on foot and headed to the southeast on the western side of the pond. He was found lying on the ground by searchers with the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol circled the site until members of the South Hand Fire Department and a neighbor arrived, and then myself and the Miller Fire Chief, who is also an EMT. LeRoy had already passed away.

It is not known how long LeRoy was there, but his death appeared peaceful and was ironically in such a calm, majestic setting, close to nature and livestock and wildlife.

LeRoy was transported from the scene by members of the Hand County Ambulance crew and was later entrusted to Reck Funeral Home of Miller, who is working with Isburg Funeral Chapel of Pierre for final funeral preparations.

The family of LeRoy Nye is grateful beyond expression for the care and concern shown by so many people whom they did not know. So many vehicle miles traveled, so many footsteps taken, so many square miles flown. This effort, all by people who didn’t ask for anything more than to have LeRoy home.

In spite of our failure to find LeRoy alive, so many successes were achieved. An entire county was mobilized to search an area just about the size of Rhode Island, and then when you add the neighboring counties, the size of New England.

The search, under the direction of Incident Commanders Deputy Patrick McGawley and Fire Chief Steve Resel set into place a search of all travelable roadways. Later, Chief Resel took full control as Incident Commander and the search continued past midnight.

The following day, Emergency Manager Nehemia Volquardsen became the Incident Commander for search operations and the search continued. Many areas were checked again and we expanded into neighboring counties. The weather slowed searching as rain made roads almost impassable, and flying a chore only for the most dedicated pilots.

After the search of traveled roads was completed, we set out to check bridges and ravines, and encouraged people to check their private property. The number of volunteer first responders dropped, but the number of citizens in the search increased.

Wednesday, we set out to search the water by boat or jet ski and went back to search every square mile by man and binocular.

In this multi-day process, we engaged many partnerships with people to search for, advertise, promote, push and keep the spirit of finding LeRoy going. Some of our Facebook posts touched 50,000 views.

At about 8:20 p.m., we heard the Civil Air Patrol radio their base that they had spotted a vehicle matching the description, and within moments a person lying on the ground. Responders were mobilized and the recovery occurred.

The list of people and agencies to thank is so long that I certainly risk offending those who I would not mention, so I will collectively thank you all, even if your only role was to support your family or friends who searched.

The Hand County Ambulance, the Jerauld and Buffalo County sheriffs, the Miller Fire Department rescue team, the Jerauld County coroner, the South Hand Fire Department and several neighbors all helped at the scene.

We do not expect to release any more information about this incident. We will not be doing any personal interviews, as this story should focus on LeRoy Nye.

We will post one or two photographs on our webpage/Facebook page. Facebook: Search “Hand County Sheriff.” Our website is hand.sdcounties.org/sheriff.

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