Friend of missing hunter speaks
Matt Peppler talks about his friend's ability ...
Search for missing man continues
The search for Jamey Mosch of Fort ...
The search for a missing hunter
NBC-2: Jamey Mosch was separated from his ...
MISSING HUNTER JAMEY MOSCH FOUND ALIVE
- Audio: 911 call for hunter missing in Everglades
- Video: Sister talks about reunion with Jamey
- Video: NBC-2 - Missing hunter found
- Video: Friend of missing hunter speaks
- Video: Search for missing man continues
- Video: The search for a missing hunter
- Photos: Day 4: Missing hunter Jamey Mosch found alive in Everglades
- Photos: Day 3: Searching for Jamey Mosch
- Photos: Day 2: The search for Jamey Mosch continues
- Photos: Day 1: Search for the missing hunter
- Photos: Jamey Mosch
- Photo: Map of where officials are searching for Jamey Mosch
- Story: PHOTOS/VIDEO: Bloodhound, officers rescue hunter from Everglades
- Story: Hunter found alive; ate catfish, drank swamp water to survive
- Story: VIDEO/PHOTOS: Clues found among snakes, gators but hunter still missing in Everglades
- Story: After having 'bad feeling', family believes story of how Jamey Mosch went missing
- Story: 911 CALL/VIDEO/PHOTOS: Searchers hear moaning, yet still haven't found missing man in Everglades
- Story: VIDEO/911 CALL: Search suspended for 30-year-old man missing during Big Cypress hunting trip
POSTED at 4 p.m.
Authorities shut down the Alligator Alley portion of Interstate 75 four times Thursday afternoon as helicopters dropped off search and rescue teams near mile-marker 75, where they believe lost hunter Jamey Mosch may be located.
The move was prompted by the discovery earlier in the day of two pairs of boot prints north of the canal running parallel to the interstate, and about a half-mile to a mile east of Turner River Road. The boot prints appeared to be headed west.
"Those footprints those two teams found are our best hope of finding this guy," Cpl. John Borchers of the Collier County Sheriff's Office told the gathered rescuers.
"Hopefully he's on his way back to Turner River, and we can pick him up," Borchers said.
A.J. Maynard and Pam Steelman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were the first off the helicopters. They said they were looking for any sign of Mosch; a track or an unnatural disturbance.
They've both rescued people from the Everglades before.
"We've found them four days later, and they've been fine," Maynard said.
POSTED at 3 p.m.
The news of Mosch's disappearance has been a concern in his home town of Elmira, N..Y, near Ithaca, said Mosch's longtime friend, Keith Gustin.
Gustin said his Facebook page has been flooded with well-wishers, and he's receiving hundreds of phone calls a day from friends trying to get the latest information. Mosch was well-liked and had a lot of friends in his hometown, Gustin said.
Gustin said his mood has swung from optimism to pessimism as the week drags on.
"We're trying to stay positive," he said. "It's a rollercoaster ride. It really is."
Gustin wonders why his friend, who is an experienced hunter, hasn't used some of his outdoorsman skills to alert rescuers to his wherabouts. Why, for instance, hasn't he started a fire? Why hasn't he been following the stars?
"Maybe everything isn't what it seems," Gustin said.
POSTED at 1 p.m.
Rescue crews have found two new pairs of boot prints believed to missing hunter Jamey Mosch. The prints were found north of a canal parallel with Alligator Alley and a mile east of Turner River Road. The prints appear to be fresh and heading east toward Turner River Road, according to Michelle Batten, a spokeswoman with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
“We think the probability is that they could be his,” Batten said.
Authorities will be shutting down Alligator Alley in this area around 2 p.m. for helicopter to land. Teams of dogs and an airboat will be searching the area.
POSTED at 11:45 a.m.
Searchers found a pack of cigarettes tucked into the bark of a palmetto tree, in area away from the direction other clues appear to be leading, officials said.
The Marlboro Lights were discovered roughly half a mile north of a previous clue discovered Tuesday, a discarded mosquito repellent device.
Other clues have been found southeast of the device, including a boot print, a "human indication" by a search dog and whistling and shouting noises reported by several teams. Mosch was also last seen in that area, and the hunters who reported him missing recalled distress gunshots coming from nearby.
Still, the placement of the cigarettes was telling, said Sgt. Bob Brown, a supervisor with the Collier County Sheriff's Office Emergency Response Team.
"So someone wanted to keep them from getting wet," Brown said. "That tells us someone was there recently. Whether that was him or not, we don't know yet."
The area is frequently hunted.
Marlboro lights weren't Mosch's preferred brand, Brown said. He also noted that Mosch would have needed to cross chest-high water to get from the area where he was heard firing gunshots to the tree where the cigarettes were found.
Two out of three search teams are still working in the southeast portion of a 1.3-mile-by-1.3-mile area north of I-75 and east of Turner River Road. Brown said the area seems more promising.
The whistling or shouting noises, heard late Wednesday, were the latest clue before the cigarettes. Brown said the noises were not described as moaning, despite previous reports. He also said the search teams may have just been hearing one another.
Deputies closed a portion of I-75 to silence the area, and they blasted a loud-speaker message for Mosch, all to no avail.
Today, roughly 60 people from various local, state and federal agencies are participating in the search.
Those in the southeast area will return around noon.
Brown said searchers remain optimistic about finding Mosch, despite "diminishing returns." He said the hunter was capable of finding water, and that the abundance of foliage offered shade from the heat.
"We're unturning every stone we can to find him," he said.
POSTED at 9:15 a.m.
Search teams will return to the southeastern portion of Bear Island, which has already yielded several clues, in hopes of discovering Mosch today, a Big Cypress spokesman said.
"We still remain optimistic that even though he is weakened, he is in the window of survivability," said Bob DeGross, spokesman for the preserve.
Two search teams will focus on the area, about 1.5 miles east of Turner River Road and roughly half a mile north of I-75, DeGross said. Searchers found a mosquito repellent device about 1,200 yards east of Turner River Road on Tuesday and a boot print in the mud farther out on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, two search groups reported hearing moaning around the area.
"That's the last evidence we have, and so that's where we're really starting to put people in," DeGross said.
Searchers are using helicopters to drop team members in the area, a move that could save searchers a long, tiring hike, DeGross said. The process is lengthy, as each copter can only transport one or two people at a time.
A third search team will move farther to the north, DeGross said, as a backup in case Mosch moved in that direction.
Each team comprises 10 to 15 searchers, among them sheriff's deputies from local agencies, paramedics, and riflemen prepared to kill any threatening animals. The terrain, wet and thick with brush, is a haven for alligators and snakes.
Search dogs are also part of each group. Bloodhounds are being used to detect ground scents, while another breed is being used to search for airborne odors.
The search teams move in a rough V-shape, DeGross said, with everyone staying in sight of one another.
DeGross also said that the hunters who reported Mosch missing have remained to help in the search. The group, which has ranged in size from five to 10 hunters, is leasing the Hingsong camp.
"They've continued to cooperate throughout the whole event," he said.
POSTED at 7:45 a.m.
The sun is up and the search is back on for Jamey Mosch, the 30-year-old hunter missing in the Everglades.
More than 60 hours have now passed since Mosch was last seen walking into the woods, and rescuers are returning to the Bear Island are of Big Cypress National Preserve for another day of scouring thick brush and high waters.
Two days of searching have yielded several clues, including a ThermaCELL mosquito repellent device believed to be owned by Mosch and a boot print in a muddy area.
Late Wednesday afternoon, two groups of searchers believed they heard a moaning sound near the I-75 corridor. An interstate lane was closed around the area, but nothing was ever found.
Authorities on Wednesday said they "remain optimistic."
The search will begin after a morning meeting. A Collier County Sheriff's deputy said he expected at least the same number of people searching as on Wednesday. The search area has focused on 1.3-mile-by-1.3-mile square in the area of Bear Island, a brush-thick region north of I-75 and east of Turner River Road.
So far, about 40 people have searched on land and by air. Around 30 people have worked in support of the search group. Helicopters and search dogs have also been employed in the efforts.
Mosch was last seen at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, after his hunting party said he left their private camp to go it alone just southeast of the camp. The group called 911 that evening, when Mosch hadn't returned to the camp. They told a dispatcher they heard him fire gunshots into the air throughout the day, and that it sounded as if he were moving farther away from the camp.
Pointing to a map-sized aerial photograph taped to the hood of a patrol car, Sgt. Bob Brown gave a search team the lay of the land on Wednesday.
The map showed a 1.3-mile-by-1.3-mile tangle of palmetto scrub and cypress trees where Brown, a supervisor with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team, said search teams have the best chance of finding a hunter missing since Monday afternoon in the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Jamey Mosch, 30, of North Fort Myers, left a private hunting camp north of Interstate 75 and east of Turner River Road in the Bear Island area of the preserve and did not return.
Hunting companions said they heard what they believed to be Mosch firing shots into the air to signal his location when he got lost.
Brown said Mosch left the camp without food but might have a limited supply of water and dressed in civilian camouflage.
“Finding a green man in a green swamp is not an easy endeavor,” Brown said.
Still, search crews have come across what they say are clues to Mosch’s trail.
Late Tuesday afternoon, search dogs scented on a device Mosch may have dropped, called a ThermaCELL, that hunters carry with them to repel mosquitoes. The device was found about 1,200 yards through dense vegetation east of Turner River Road, Brown said.
Dogs followed the scent but eventually lost the trail, he said.
Then, at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, searchers found a single set of prints from a pair of rubber boots on the east side of a pond further southeast of where Mosch had left the camp, Brown said.
A third clue — alleged moaning sounds heard by at least two groups near the I-75 corridor — led to the temporary closure of the westbound lanes of Interstate 75, to eliminate the background noise of roaring traffic.
“When we did that, we did not receive any positive outcome,” said Bob DeGross, spokesman for the Big Cypress National Preserve. “We continue to have hope. We remain optimistic.”
Some 40 people searched on foot and in the air for Mosch with another 30 people on scene in support roles, DeGross said. The area is inaccessible by vehicles. Officials said they will continue to look in the area where they heard moaning as they continue the search on Thursday.
Two six-person teams from Collier’s two-year-old Emergency Response Team were among those helping with the search Wednesday.
The unit has 78 members, enough to rotate teams in and out of the search area every three days for as long as the search lasts.
Mary Jo Shreffler, a ranger with the National Park Service, was out in the swamp all day searching for Mosch. She said the search area has some of the densest vegetation in the preserve, marked by thick brush, hanging vines, ankle-deep to waist-deep water, and poor footing.
“If you are unfamiliar with the surroundings, and you don’t have the proper equipment with you, you could easily get lost,” Shreffler said.
Brown said it is hard to say how long Mosch could survive, lost and alone, in the wilderness.
“We’re doing everything in our power to improve his survivability, give him as much a chance as possible,” Brown said.
He said search teams are working under the assumption that Mosch needs medical attention either because of an injury or from dehydration.
Besides the Collier emergency response team, rescuers and canine units from Miami-Dade, Broward, Hendry and Palm Beach counties fielded crews to help with the search for Mosch along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service.
Helicopters expanded their aerial search to cover 8 square miles, DeGross said.
Volunteer hunters also pitched in, including bringing airboats to run up a canal on the edge of the search area to look for spots to land.
Immokalee residents Gayla Lawrence, 46, and her husband, Jay Lawrence, 51, were searching the canals running along I-75 in their air boat, “Bad Habit.” They were one of the groups that reported hearing what Gayla Lawrence called a “moaning cry” coming from the brush.
“We heard some kind of sound,” she said. “We weren’t sure what it was because of the traffic. There’s so many different animals in the woods.”
Mosch’s friend, Matt Peppler, was back at the search crews’ command post Wednesday hoping for the best.
“I just want to go out there myself and look,” Peppler said.
He said authorities had told him he couldn’t help with the search because the terrain was too dangerous.
The situation is not lost on Collier’s search teams, which each include a rifleman poised to shoot at alligators or water moccasins that might pose a threat, Brown said.
Just as large a threat is the landscape itself, said Lyle McCandless, an experienced Big Cypress hunter.
Usually, when someone gets lost in Big Cypress, they could walk until they found a trail and then follow it, but the Bear Island Unit is notoriously short on trails, McCandless said.
“It would be one of the hardest places in the preserve to try to find somebody,” said McCandless, president of the Big Cypress Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It’s really jumbled. He could get bottlenecked up there in deep water and be in trouble.”
Water levels in the Bear Island Unit are about a half-foot lower this year than they were last year as the dry season sets in early but water is only part of the challenge of the landscape, Big Cypress National Preserve hydrologist Bob Sobczak said.
The woods are so thick it is difficult to see through the trees, and there are no hills to climb to get a better look around, he said.
The National Park Service has asked the public to call its South Florida communications center at (305) 242-7740 with any leads on Mosch’s whereabouts.