Water Search for Debris - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Water Search for Debris

Story by Donna McCollum

Crew are looking for a piece of wreckage that's the size of a small car, but when you're searching in an area as large and deep as Toledo Bend, it might as well be minute in size.

The serenity of a well known East Texas reservoir has been momentarily broken by the passage of search and rescue boats.

The mission is to find Columbia Shuttle debris in an area spanning about one mile by five miles.

Billy Willorford, a Jasper County volunteer helped other searchers from the Coast Guard, DPS and Harris County. They are looking for wreckage that's either floating or still below the lake water.

A slow search along the shoreline with the aid of underwater cameras has revealed nothing. So more sophisticated equipment has been called in. A side scan sonar device, similar to one used to find the titanic, will be used tomorrow.

"That will give a much better picture of the bottom and cover a wider area. They should be able to cover 50 feet or so," said Billy Willorford, Jasper County Emergency Corps.

Searchers are based at Indian Mounds Recreation Area in the Sabine National Forest. Divers won't go into the water until something is detected. The visibility is too poor.

"So far the depth is 5 feet by 30 feet, but we're going to start covering another area out in a channel. It will be deeper about 40 feet' or better," said Willorford.

The hope is that eventually a major piece of the Shuttle Columbia puzzle will be located giving NASA another clue to what may have happened.

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