By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Just past midnight last Friday morning the Middlebury Police Department and two Vermont State Police troopers floodlit a portion of the Otter Creek behind the baseball diamond at Middlebury Union High School and scanned the water for signs of missing Middlebury College student Nicholas Garza.
They were called to the site after a search and rescue agency from Maine, which had been taking photographs of the river in an aerial assessment on Thursday, identified a suspicious object in its photos late Thursday night.
But after two hours probing the dark water — and at the end of another search of the area led by the Colchester Technical Rescue Squad from 6:30 a.m. until sunset on Friday — authorities were no closer to solving the mystery of the 19-year-old’s disappearance.
It was about a week ago that the Maine agency, Down East Emergency Medical Institute (DEEMI), contacted Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley offering to help. DEEMI volunteers spent Thursday flying at about 500 feet over the Otter Creek and a portion of Lake Champlain, snapping hundreds of photographs along the way.
“The cameras, by virtue of the lighting conditions, can pick up objects as low as 15 feet below the surface of the water,” Hanley explained on Friday afternoon.
At the end of the day DEEMI flew back to Maine where an analyst went through the pictures for suspicious objects.
“In one of their early images they found an object in the water in this area,” Hanley said, referring to a section of the river behind the high school that until now has not been searched. “They didn’t know what it was. Clearly it wasn’t a rock or a tree; it was just a foreign object.”