Monday, September 24, 2007

Unsung Heroes - Part 3

Team Ralston has done it again!

From: The Chronicle Herald
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Couple use sub to locate for body of drowned teen
By MICHAEL RIGLER The Canadian Press 4:41 AM

"The body of 19-year-old Stephan Hopkins was recovered from Little Bonne Bay Pond, near Deer Lake, by Gene and Sandy Ralston of Boise, Idaho. Within an hour of launching their remote-controlled submersible vehicle — which is equipped with side-scan sonar technology — the volunteer searchers had found and recovered Hopkins body in approximately 26 metres of water.

The Ralstons were contacted by Hopkins’ uncle who’d learned about their efforts on the Internet. The couple have a remarkable track record. They’re now responsible for locating and recovering 54 bodies over the past seven years. The two now spend anywhere between 150 and 250 days a year volunteering their services all over the continent.
Mr. Ralston said the people there are incredibly nice and have stopped by the campground to say thank you.

Editorial from: The Western Star

Let's get the equipment ourselves
11:20 AM on 20/09/07

The story Wednesday about the couple from Idaho who recovered the body of Stephan Hopkins in less than an hour should spur some action by government.

Hopkins drowned two months ago in Bonne Bay Little Pond and an extensive search failed to recover his body.

This week, husband and wife team Sandy and Gene Ralston used side-scanning sonar to find Hopkins' remains which will offer some closure for his family and friends. The Ralstons volunteer their time and expertise and all they require is families cover the cost of moving their boat and expensive equipment.

If a couple can manage to purchase this kind of equipment and learn to use it, it's time the provincial government did the same.

The RCMP diving team is made up of professionals but there are conditions and times of the year when they are unable to operate.

Having a submersible underwater rover equipped with a side-scanning radar and a team trained to use it only makes sense in this province, where we spend so much time in and on the water.

Hopefully, there wouldn't be much need for the equipment ...but when it is required it could be dispatched on short notice instead of leaving it to families, friends and communities to raise money to bring a kind-hearted couple all the way from Idaho.

It would be money well spent.