What lies beneath

By Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate April 01, 2013 06:56 pm

Bryant Anderson / Del Norte Triplicate National Parks Ranger Dave Keltner and Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Wiley deploy a side-scanning sonar in Dead Lake on Friday.
Bryant Anderson / Del Norte Triplicate National Parks Ranger Dave Keltner and Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Wiley deploy a side-scanning sonar in Dead Lake on Friday.
Tolowa legend has it there is a large serpent swimming the murky waters of Dead Lake. If there is, it wasn’t found during a search operation conducted by authorities this week.

Sonar was used to scan a portion of the lake on Thursday and Friday in search of any vehicles or equipment that may have been dumped in years past.

Sheriff’s deputies on the boating safety team and rangers from the National and State Parks puttered through the lake at around 5 mph as a torpedo-shaped side-sonar device bounced waves underwater. Only one object that warranted further inquiry was located.

“We just thought we’d get a picture of what’s out there,” said California State Parks Ranger Mike Whelan. “This has never been done here.”

The operation was spawned last year after Whelan met with Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Wiley in the hope of learning more about the sonar and what may lie in the waters of the lake.

On Friday, Wiley coordinated a crew from the Sheriff’s dive team to inspect the object he spotted. After about an hour of walking on the lake bed and feeling through the murky waters the object was determined to be a log.

The images sent from the sonar to a computer give a rough silhouette of objects, “so a lot of it is up to interpretation,” said Wiley.

“It’s a great tool that we haven’t had to use too often,” said Wiley. “It was a great exercise to refresh our skills.”

It was also a good opportunity for training the rangers on how to use the equipment since Wiley is the only authority in the county who knows how to use it, Whelan said.

The sonar was last used about four years ago when authorities were searching for a fisherman who fell out of his boat on the Smith River near Hiouchi Bridge, Wiley said.

The sonar helped authorities locate the submerged boat, but cadaver dogs were eventually brought in to find the man, Wiley said.

The sonar is useful in finding anything from a submerged vehicle, person or even a gun, Wiley said.

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