Utah K-9’s join Hildale search for missing flood victim

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HILDALE, Utah - Search efforts for six-year-old Tyson Black are being scaled back in Thursday. Coordinators say it’s being done to focus efforts on K-9 searches.

Dogs and their handlers have come from all over the region to help look for any sign of the final victim in last week’s deadly flash flood. After 11 days of searching, Hildale mayor Philip Barlow said they’re re-evaluating their strategy.

“Everybody is just anxious to find him,” said Barlow. “It’s really hard to tell people, No we’re not going to look anymore.”

Barlow said hundreds of volunteers have searched the seven miles of Short Creek for the boy on foot, digging through debris. Friday they will keep teams out of the creek bed.

“The idea with that is to just give the creek bed a rest,” said Barlow. “Let the dog teams do the work, it gets easier for them as more time goes by so they’re very confident. It’s just not as soon as we’d wish.”

Wasatch Backcountry Rescue made up five of the K9 teams searching Thursday. Dog coordinator Andy Van Houten said when the call came in for more K-9 crews, they jumped in the car.

“It’s a tragic situation,” said Van Houten. “I figured there’s a bunch of us who could afford a few days off of work, and we've got a resource that’s really useful.”

The Wasatch Backcountry Rescue teams work primarily in avalanche situations, so the desert is a change of scenery for those dogs. But Van Houten said those skills translate very well.

“A lot of it is just traveling in tough terrain,” said Van Houten. “Avalanche debris is very hard to negotiate, and that’s why we use the dogs. It’s similar to what we've seen with the debris down here, it’s a lot of piles of mud and trees and rocks and debris.”

The Wasatch Backcountry Rescue teams ended their shifts Thursday night, another 10 teams are expected to arrive this weekend