What a Captain Should Not Say

It was wonderful to hear that missing person David La Vau was rescued last week

The 68-year-old man had survived six days on his own after his car veered off a California road and plunged down a 200 foot ravine.  La Vau had survived on creek water and bugs, and is currently recovering from multiple injuries in the intensive care unit of a Santa Clarita hospital.

Sadly, another missing person, Melvin Gelfand an 88-year old veteran, was found dead in his vehicle in the same ravine--Mr. Gelfand had been missing for almost two weeks longer than Mr. La Vau. 



Not content with sitting and waiting, La Vau's family found David after launching their own ground search for him:

...A sheriff's detective helped them determine a general area to look by tracing Lavau's cellphone, but it was a large and remote mountain area with canyons and ravines that could barely be seen from the road.

Once they had that information, they found him quickly, which was essential because he had been living on bugs, leaves and creek water and borrowing Gelfand's glasses for nearly a week.

"It seemed like forever, but it wasn't, we're talking hours," Lavau's son-in-law Jesse Hooker, one of the six in the family search party, said Saturday.

Hooker said family members took matters into their own hands not because they had a big problem with the response of the Sheriff's Department, but they didn't have the patience for police procedure.

"I don't think they did a bad job," said Hooker, husband of Lavau's daughter Chardonnay Hooker. "I know that we weren't willing to wait the time periods we were going to have to."

And Hooker had only praise for Diane Harris, the sheriff's detective who gave the family direction. Hooker said "if she didn't do that, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did."

In the same article, I was disappointed that authorities included this in response to the search effort:

...Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Mike Parker said the department did everything it could on a missing persons case with no evidence of foul play, and called the rescue "remarkable"...

Really?

Captain Parker of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department arguing that the "department did everything it could" when family members spearheaded the investigation and search to find their elderly loved one trapped in a life-threatening situation that involved him eating bugs for almost a week?

Now that is ridiculous.

One would expect the sheriff department's spokesman to, at the least, state that his agency's policies and procedures are currently being reviewed to determine if improvements can be made for future missing person investigations.

That the agency's response would be driven by urgency--as in this urgent case considering the man's age and that his cell phone trace resulted in a "ping" leading the family to him in the remote area.

Please Captain, save the CYA talk for the lawyers, the public deserves better.

18 comments:

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I agree! I'm sure the Family who had to recruit their own man power took a bit of offense to that statement. He should know he has the right to remain silent! :)

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Ridiculous indeed.

Miranda Hardy said...

If his family hadn't found him, he'd be dead. It's the sad truth.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

For starters, OMG their cars are practically ON TOP of each other! That's creepy! Secondly, umm... yeah, I appreciate that the family is respectful of the sherrif's dept, but it's obvious they dropped the ball!

Pat Hatt said...

That is pathetic, everything the could my butt. What are these guys, who take tax dollars, doing that's so important, that the people who pay them have to go out and do their damn job for them?

ladyfi said...

Now that is good news!

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I cant even imagine going through something like that and then having it addressed in such a way!
crazy . . .

Your blog is so refreshing. I love the way you write and the relevant, thought-provoking angles you see things from.

JJ.in.Phila said...

I believe the Rider case was quite similar.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21020571/ns/us_news-life/t/woman-missing-days-found-alive-ravine/

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
THis is an incredible story.

And yes, that captain (Parker) needs to MAN UP and take SOME responsibility for the search procedures (and implement change).

When the FAMILY makes the find, it makes those who SHOULD be looking "less than effective", and to have th4e department say everything's fine as it is, just doesn't cut the muster (imho).

Good post & comments.

Stay safe out there.

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh wow. That is a bit of egg on face.

Little Ms. Fun said...

Creek water and bugs? That's the will to live! Now if only people made a greater effort to find him. It's kind of sad in a way how society just accepts things and moves on.

WomanHonorThyself said...

fascinating update Slam....have a great rest of the day my friend~:)

Audrey Allure said...

That definitely is ridiculous, they could have done a lot more to help locate him.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Kudos to the family for doing what was necessary at the time. It really paid off.

Michael Offutt said...

People have gotten lazy. No one cares about anything else. "Looking" for someone basically involves them driving around and looking out the window while drinking coffee and eating a doughnut. "Meh...didn't see anyone. We did everything we could."

Bonnie said...

I don't know why some people open their mouths. Come on, bro. You know better.

http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Maxi said...

The sheriff's office needs a new spokesman.

Thank goodness Mr. La Vau didn't get seriously ill from the water.

(Florida) Girl said...

Good for this family and their happy outcome.