Friends and family will resume the search for a missing Armstrong Atlantic State University student next weekend.
Clint Droste is organizing another and more expansive search for Bryce Tarter, who has been missing since Jan. 31. The search will start April 17 at 7:30 a.m.
Droste formed Operation Hope Search and led a large search effort two weeks ago. Law enforcement and citizen search efforts have been conducted since Tarter went missing. The Armstrong Atlantic State University student was last seen attending a party in Statesboro when he left to get his truck and head home. Not a trace of Tarter or his truck has been found since.
In preparation for the upcoming search, Droste and Blake Tarter, Bryce’s father, went up in a single engine airplane loaned from Pegasus Air in Statesboro on Tuesday. They flew over the area in hopes of spotting either some sort of evidence or areas that may need to be searched on the ground.
Droste said they covered a lot of ground and that they’ve been keeping an eye on standing water in the area. He said, “Water is always a possibility in a case like this, whether it was accidental or if there was foul play involved. The river stages are actually falling back a lot now where they’ve been extremely high the last couple of months. We have several areas in mind that black water divers could go if they’re willing to volunteer their time.”
He said he is hopeful they can attract some divers in addition to mounted search teams, boaters and more ATVs.
“We had a great turnout before with our ATVs and we’re hoping to have at least twice as many, hopefully more than that,” Droste said. “We had about 14 active ATVs last time. We’re hoping to have around 30, maybe even more this time.”
Droste said this search would be based in one of the three counties – Bryan, Bulloch and Effingham, and possibly part of Chatham, but that he won’t release the actual search area until about a week out from the search.
“We’re still just kind of sorting through all of our details, still debriefing from search areas that we searched with the last Operation Hope Search,” he said. “We’re also hoping that something will come in, some other clue or important piece of information that may lead us a little closer to where we need to be.”
He also spoke of the importance of local law enforcement in their searches.
“They were very supportive during the last search,” Droste said. “I know that Effingham actually dispatched several units. We would love to have them present. It shows very good support and it’s important that they be involved.”
Droste said they would welcome donations of food and beverages such as bottled water and soft drinks, for the search teams. He also said a crucial need for the searchers is large aerial maps of the search areas and asked that anyone who could print out large copies could help them a great deal.
He also said the Tarter family had been spending a lot of money on travel, as Tarter’s parents live in the Northeast.
Anyone wishing to donate to the family can visit the Web site www.bringbrycehome.com. Anyone wanting to make donations to or be a part of the upcoming search can reach Droste at (912) 433-4216.