Home / U.S. / The marine and diving units of NHCSO use new tools to help in the search for

The marine and diving units of NHCSO use new tools to help in the search for


The remains found in a stream are those of Mariah Woods, who disappeared 3 years ago.

That has been confirmed by the Onslow County Sheriff's Office, the coroner and the District Attorney.

A public visit took place for Woods Wednesday in Jacksonville.

More than 48 federal and state agencies searched for it for almost a week before it was found in Pender County on Saturday.

Two of those agencies were the diving unit and marine units of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

With more than 134,000 square miles of water in the county's jurisdiction, they unfortunately have had their fair share of water rescues and body recovery operations. While they did not find Mariah personally, they used new devices in the exhaustive search of Southwest Creek near Mariah's home.

"We tried the sonar and the robot to try to locate anything under water," said the sergeant. Daryl Taaffe with the diving unit.

Eight scuba team members from the sheriff's office along with the marine unit worked 16 hours a day scanning every inch of Southwest Creek by any sign of Mariah.

"It's very tedious, a long time," Taaffe said. "Our divers can only spend a lot of time underwater and go very slowly, there are a lot of debris in the bottom, climbing on rocks and trees, you have to look for everything with your hands back and forth"

It's a meticulous task and laborious for the teams, but thanks to a new grant of $ 70,000, underwater hunting was a bit easier than previous attempts to recover the body.

A new communication unit, wet suits and breathing apparatus were searched for Mariah's search. The communication system allows them to talk with two divers at the same time in the water. They used to rely on pulling strings and using signals.

Lateral sonar technology and robots were also deployed since divers could only spend 20 minutes in turbid, brackish waters.

"The side-scan sonar plays an absolute role because it gives us a good image – if you're looking for a vehicle, you can make it clear that it's a Ford F-150 – the clarity is remarkable," said Lieutenant Jerry Brewer.

Leaving technology aside, the most important tool in this search was simply the heart of the members of the diving team.

"The most important thing that helps us continue is to know that we are looking for a child, we are looking for a body to give peace to a loved one, if that is possible," said Taaffe.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

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