• October 1, 2014

Pershing Lake search comes up empty

Park remains closed until further notice

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Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012 12:00 pm

Park remains closed until further notice

By Sarah Rafique

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — A trained Belgian Malinois cadaver dog set sail on a rescue boat for about 30 minutes Saturday at Pershing Lake.

The canine, who has been on the job for 5½ years, searched for the scent of human decomposition in murky water bordering Fort Hood and Killeen.

After the dog didn't find anything significant, the Morgan's Point Underwater Rescue Team filed onto a red Fort Hood Fire/Rescue boat equipped with a sonar device and continued a search that began Thursday after a soldier's fishing line snagged a 6-inch-long clump of dark, black hair with a base about the size of a quarter.

The search concluded after 5 p.m. and was inconclusive. But the park will remain closed while officials test equipment unrelated to Saturday's search.

Lab technicians were unable to determine how long the hair was in the water, but pathologists at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center determined it was consistent with human hair.

"Initially, we thought there was tissue attached to it, but we believe that may have been sediment or something from the ground," said Christopher Zimmer, deputy director for emergency services at Fort Hood. "However, the doctors were able to determine there were hair follicles at the end of some of the hairs."

Jonathan Hancock, station chief for the Fort Hood Fire Department, searched the lake in a boat with a depth-finder sonar device capable of side-searching about 120 feet instead of only looking straight down, which allowed for a detailed search of the water.

Zimmer acknowledged the department is spending a lot of resources for a clump of hair, but said the small community of Fort Hood and its partners off post must take incidents like this seriously.

"I really would hate for there to be somebody's family member in this lake and that we didn't do what we could do to try to find it and return those remains," he said.

Zimmer said they are not actively seeking a missing person while searching the lake, which is only authorized for fishing, not swimming. Although two people were reported missing from Fort Hood in the past month, both cases are believed to be runaways.

While searches at the lake will end for now, officials aren't finished with the investigation.

"We'll send the hair off to the lab to make another attempt to validate whether it's 100 percent positive human hair," Zimmer said. "I believe that if there are human remains (in the lake) that we will find them."

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549.

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