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The BMF Project for Search and Rescue was started to honor the memory of Brandon Michael Fugate, who at 18 years of age, drowned in Lake Ray Hubbard on November 29, 2008.

Brandon and two other young men had gone out to quickly check a trout line, when a front blew in and made the waters very choppy and the winds very high. As they were returning to shore a wave hit the boat and a 40mph gust of wind hit the boat and threw all three boys in the water. The boat continued, and the three boys were left in 42 degree water with no life jackets. Only a couple of hundred yards from shore the first instinct was to swim for shore, as all three were experienced strong swimmers. The water temperature quickly got the best of all three and they decided it best to float and wait for help. Brandon felt he could still swim and decided to continue to shore to get help. When a fisherman pulled the two boys out of the water minutes later, Brandon was no where to be found. When the two boys were taken to the hospital their body temperature was 86 degrees. This was after being in the water for approximately 5-7 minutes.

 

After an exhaustive search by many agencies, Brandon was not found that night. The following morning the massive search for Brandon, that would last 29 days, began. During the month that Brandon was missing in the cold waters, there were many agencies and volunteers that would search for Brandon. The conditions on the lake were extremely difficult on the search and rescue workers, but they never stopped.  There were, however, many delays in the search, including having to wait on equipment to come from other parts of the state.

 

During the time we spent with all the search and rescue workers, we discovered funding was a major problem, regardless of the agency. The Game Wardens would often have to buy equipment out of their own pockets, the divers, all volunteers, would have to pay for their special equipment such as cold suits. The search dogs, once again all volunteers, pay for the special training their dogs receive.  Special sonar equipment had to be brought from another state. The list goes on.

 

It is tragic and devastating to lose a family member, but it is unbearable to not be able to find them for even a minute, much less for a month. When the delay in finding your family member is due to insufficient resources and funding, in spite of the diligent efforts of the search and rescue workers, the frustration can be excruciating.

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