Water searches easier for NHSO thanks to new gadget


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The depths of the sea and the bottom of big bodies of water are no longer a big problem for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

New technology used to search for a missing man in the Northeast Cape Fear River yesterday makes the job easier.

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“We were able to locate what we believed to be the body and put divers right on top of it in a short amount of time,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer said. “So that gave bit of reprieve for the family, and also, once we were able to locate that, it relieved all of those emergency personnel who were tied up in that investigation.”

Brewer says Michael Caison, 43, tried to swim across the river near Castle Hayne Tuesday, but did not make it. While search crews could not save him, the search for his body was easier thanks to the sheriff’s office’s new side scan sonar system

“it gives us a three-dimensional image of the bottom, which really allows us to identify objects better than we did in the past,” Brewer said. “In the past we had sonar, but it just wasn’t side scanning, and the sonar at that time just gave you kind of a downward picture of it. It really couldn’t differentiate between what was on the bottom and what wasn’t.”

Brewer says without the side scan sonar, this search for this missing man could have gone on for days using up valuable resources.

The sheriff’s office bought the sonar system with money from a federal port security grant.