First responders remain optimistic in search for Serenity

ROCKERVILLE S.D. — It’s been one of the biggest stories of this year, the disappearance of Serenity Dennard.

Investigators have followed hundreds of leads, and still no answers. Regardless, rescue teams remain optimistic as they continue their search, which resumed on Friday. Its been nearly 11 weeks since 9-year-old Serenity Dennard went missing from the Children’s Home Society in Rockerville.

Rescue crews continue to search the rugged terrain on South Rockerville Road. They’re using their ‘grid strategy’ combing every foot.

“We have people that are searching from fingertip to fingertip, really being able to check some areas off the map,” said Lt. Kraig Wood with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. “I don’t think you can say something is 100 percent checked, but we’re getting close.”

On Friday, the 52 people from 10 law enforcement agencies were faced with jagged, sometimes impassible cliffs and rocks.

“Both the hillsides are very steep, a lot of the loose needles from the fall that have fallen down, we’ve already had a lot of people slip and stumble in that, but its very dangerous terrain, said Jay Evenson, a retired captain with the Sheriff’s Office.

Two dog teams from Colorado are on the search as well. Crews have set up a portable weather station in the hills to monitor the wind speeds so the dogs can pick up on scents.

“Our winds have been consistent, that helps us understand what the dogs might be seeing, and when they have interest,” said Chief Gail Schmidt of the Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department. “Those consistent winds, those warmer winds and drier weather have been perfect for the dogs to work.”

Crews say they have to work quickly, because growing grass could cover up anything that could be on the ground. Along with the search in the Black Hills, investigators continue to interview people, sift through social media, and follow all leads.

“Both go hand in hand, the search and the investigation,” said Lt. Wood. “We’ve done hundreds of interviews through multiple states, we’re chasing down the leads that come down. They’re both intensive processes.”

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News