More than 150 people took part in the second public search for missing airman Corrie McKeague on Sunday, backed up by cadaver search dogs and a drone.
About 40 members of the public joined trained search teams from the charity Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (Sulsar), who organised the search on behalf of Corrie’s family, and their sister organisations for Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 Response provided 17 vehicles to take teams to search sites.
Corrie’s mother and stepfather, Nicola and David Urquhart, and brother Darroch McKeague took part in the search.
Speaking during the search for her son, Nicola said: “In my head, I believe Corrie is still alive, that he could still come home, but as soon as I go out looking, I know that’s not what I’m looking for.
“It’s really confusing in my head and it has been very emotional.
“It was difficult to deal with but I’ve got to look for him. I’ve got to try and find him.”
Sulsar chairman Andy King said: “It was both a success and a failure. It was a great success in that we had the number of teams out that we did and the public were very good, but the problem is, we didn’t find anything.”
In a pre-search briefing at the search rendezvous on Barton Mills car boot sale field, he warned the untrained searchers that as Corrie has been missing for four months, if he was found dead it would be an unpleasant sight.
Five cadaver dogs were brought in from as far afield as Kent and Yorkshire. They have the ability to search for bodies or parts of them.
Mr King added: “A professional drone team offered their services so we took them up on it. They were able to search areas of the river that are unaccessible and to give us a bird’s eye view of areas, which alters your perspective on them.
While the searches were going on in rural areas, Sulsar also had a rope team searching rooftops in the horseshoe area of Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, where Corrie was last seen at about 3.25am on September 24.
Mr King explained: “They have been checked by helicopter but you couldn’t see down between the buildings. Where buildings have been added over the years, there are little voids with no access so those have been checked and photographed.
“We’re told he and his brother have been know to climb a fire escape after a night out to watch the sunrise – everything is being checked.”
During the search a microlight owned by Robert Kelly, of Fowlmere near Royston, flew over the searchers showing support with the #FindCorrie Twitter hashtag beneath one wing.
Anyone with information on Corrie should call the police incident room on 01473 782019.
For more on Sulsar, to donate cash or buy equipment on its Amazon wish list visit www.sulsar.org.uk
Suffolk Police say they now have names for the last two people they wanted to trace from CCTV images taken around the time and area Corrie was last seen. Their identities still have to be confirmed.