RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — At least three separate search parties are looking for 28-year-old Sarah Erway, one of two women who went missing while on the James River on Memorial Day.
Erway’s parents are hoping today is the day they find their daughter.
According to the Richmond Fire Department, this week’s search is one of the largest missions ever on the James River.
“In my 31 years, this is the biggest search I’ve ever been a part of,” Richmond Fire Captain Mark Wagner said. “We’ve never had the cooperation from the neighboring jurisdictions.”
Richmond Fire coordinated two crews Friday that were sent out to search different sections of the river.
One team from Hanover searched the Powhite Parkway Bridge to Bosher’s Dam. Later in the day, Richmond and Goochland crews focused on the Tredegar Street area to the Powhite Bridge. First responders have been searching the same areas but have been using a smaller number of boats in comparison to earlier in the search.
They’re using Demaree Inflatable Boats (D.I.B.).
Richmond first responders have to take a three-day class at the Richmond Fire Department to become a Swift Water Technician. Employees also have one water rescue training day each week.
According to Henrico Police, county marine units are also searching for Erway on the water.
The Facebook group James River Homosapiens, has also coordinated a search of their own.
“They know our capabilities, the size of our boats. They know where we can and can’t go because they know the river better than anybody in the world,” Wagner said. “They’re going to the areas that we can’t go. They are a huge help to us today.”
Erway’s family and volunteers were also searching on the ground and in kayaks.
First responders said this week’s operation has been difficult and upsetting. On Wednesday afternoon, 23-year-old Lauren Winstead was found five miles from where the women went missing at Bosher’s Dam. They were among a group of 12 people connected together on the river.
“It’s very upsetting to deal with the family, knowing the information that we’re providing to them is not good,” Wagner said. “This one is a little bit different where there is no end in sight yet. There’s no closure.”
Authorities told 8News that the search will continue over the weekend, if Erway is not found.