COEUR d'ALENE - The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office's sonar team planned to return to Lake Coeur d'Alene early today to resume the search for Gary Scott "Scotty" Shawver.
Shawver, 57, a well-known Post Falls body shop owner, has been missing since Saturday evening when he jumped from a boat into the lake near Stevens Point to reportedly retrieve a hat that had fallen into the water. Witnesses say the man was unable to make it back to the vessel.
According to Lt. Stu Miller, the sheriff's office sonar boat was deployed for a total of 20 hours on Monday and Tuesday, scouring an area of the lake that was targeted using the GPS location taken from where the 911 call was made.
"Today I gave the sonar team a break from the search. Between the heat and the other variables on the lake the search has been difficult," Miller said Wednesday. "We focused on processing new information from several witnesses who saw the incident from their homes on the lake."
Based on that information, the search area is now being expanded to the north and east.
"We're also looking at the wind speed and direction at the time the incident occurred in order to pinpoint a more precise location," Miller added.
Miller said the sonar team would be on the lake early today, searching before most boat activity begins.
"That channel is probably the busiest area we have on the lake," Miller said. "It's a real hub of activity and that makes the search efforts a little more difficult. They've been performing high quality, really saturated searches but we are hoping if they get into the water earlier than 6 a.m. the quality will increase."
Past efforts by the sheriff's office to locate bodies in the lake have met with mixed results. A few years ago, Miller said, a youth drowned in the open part of the lake. Using the GPS location from the 911 call and taking into account wind speed, they were able to find the body within an hour.
"But in that incident the weather conditions were nowhere near as extreme as they were on Saturday," Miller said.
In 1996, prior to the sheriff's office acquisition of a boat equipped with sonar, Miller said a boy jumped off the back of a cruise boat on Lake Coeur d'Alene. His body was never recovered.
"We didn't have the equipment then but whenever we do training on the boat, we still try to find him," Miller said.
When prominent Spokane Realtor Gary Fox drowned after falling from his boat in April 2006 near Carlin Bay, it took searchers five days to recover the man's body.
At this point, there are no plans to stop the search for Shawver.
"We're taking it day-by-day," Miller said. "We'll do everything we can to make sure he's brought back to the family. That's our No. 1 goal."