Nearly three weeks after Breanna Mitchell went missing, the Washakie County Sheriff's Office is coordinating "the final search" to find the missing 28-year-old Worland woman.
Washakie County Sheriff Austin Brookwell has announced another large search effort for Friday. Multiple agencies and law enforcement personnel will search the area southeast of Worland where Mitchell's abandoned vehicle was found and where she might be. Along with her car, previous searches have only found a shirt and shoe.
"I have contacted Park County, Johnson County and Hot Springs County sheriffs, and they all have informed me they will send SAR units to assist with this search," Brookwell says in a Tuesday Facebook update on the search for Mitchell.
Mitchell's vehicle was found stuck on a two-track trail in the area surrounding the Nowater Trail on July 24. No concrete clues have been found since then. The Aug. 11 search will focus on this area.
Searching For A Scent Or A Sign
Despite no clues and little information, the search for Mitchell has remained active. The Washakie County Sheriff's Office obtained her cellphone records and has been analyzing them in the hope the phone's pings will provide an approximate location for a search.
Meanwhile, a local team of dogs and a drone are using specialized skills and technology to find Mitchell, who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds, and has green eyes and brown hair.
"At this time, there is a private company, Find-911 out of Cody, that will assist Washakie County with searching out there before the final search,” according to Brookwell’s post. “This company has K-9s, a drone, and really advanced software to process the images the drone takes to hopefully get answers.”
Dogs have been used in the search since the beginning. After a bloodhound team unsuccessfully attempted to locate a scent trail, a cadaver dog has been searching the area.
Brookwell asks that locals avoid the search area Wednesday and Thursday so they don't interfere with Find-911's work.
Recovery, Not Rescue
Because so many search and rescue personnel will participate in the Aug. 11 search, Brookwell is not asking for public assistance. He said the effort and good intentions are appreciated, but adding additional people is unnecessary and would be logistically challenging.
"I will only be coordinating the SAR units. I will not be coordinating with any civilian searchers," he said.
Nevertheless, Brookwell is not discouraging anyone from conducting their own searches for Mitchell. All he asks is that they stay out of the way of search and rescue units and consider their own safety before heading into the badlands.
"I understand individuals would like to help,” he said. “If you do come to search, please do not get in the way of the SAR units, bring plenty of water, and do not get lost. The weather is supposed to be decent as of now, but that could change, obviously."
It's also vital that any discoveries are left undisturbed. While there is hope that Mitchell will be found, Brookwell is clear that the Aug. 11 search effort is a recovery, not a rescue.
"I am asking anyone who comes out to search, if you happen to come across what looks like human remains or items that could be evidence, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!” he posted. “Call it in (307-347-2242) and give the GPS coordinates to dispatch or find a SAR unit that may be close to you and let them know."
Brookwell won't post another update on the Washakie County Sheriff's Office and Worland Police Department Facebook page "until after the search or if Find-911 locates her the day prior."
Andrew Rossi can be reached at Andrew@CowboyStateDaily.com