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Using a metal detector, Gina Anderson's father, Steve Lappegaard (right), and her husband, Jeremy Anderson, search the frozen Thief River on Saturday morning near Lappegaard's home in Thief river Falls. They were looking for signs of Anderson's car. Gina Anderson was last seen Oct. 23, 2008. Herald photo by John Stennes.

Family resumes search for Gina Lin Anderson

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region Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Family and friends of Gina Lin Anderson resumed the search for the missing Thief River Falls woman Saturday morning on the frozen Thief River near her parents' home.

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Anderson's father, Steve Lappegaard, and about a dozen searchers pursued the theory that Gina Lin's yellow Pontiac Sunfire left the road and went into the river the afternoon of Oct. 23, when she was last seen.

Wearing headphones, Lappegaard probed the ice beneath the Golf Bridge with a magnetic locator. Once the detector horn sounded, Anderson's husband, Jeremy, marked the area with a can of spray paint. The bigger any mass beneath the ice was, the louder an alarm would sound. It didn't take long to determine the equipment was working.

Augers drilled a pair of holes through 8 to 10 inches of ice under the bridge. Tony Rader, Lappegaard's neighbor, lowered an underwater camera through the hole into icy, foggy water until it rested on the silt 7 feet down.

"There's a big chunk of iron in both of these holes," Rader said while viewing the images in a monitor. "Looks like the frame of solid old metal structure."

"It's the old bridge," Laapegaard said. "At least we know we're finding metal. I think if there was a car, it'd go off the charts."

"You hit a car, you're going to go deaf," Rader said.

The family is being assisted by Gary Peterson, chairman of 3 Search Services, a volunteer organization based out of Lafayette, Ind. Peterson headed down river on a Mattracks to see if there were any broken tree limbs that might hint a car had gone into the river. He returned about 10 minutes later, signaling thumbs down. Through the retired head of a dive rescue team, Peterson researched the theory.

"Once in the water, the most a vehicle will travel on the water is 25 yards before it starts to sink," Peterson said.

Laapegaard continued his probe along the ice, moving about 50 feet on either side of the bridge. Anderson marked the areas for holes to be drilled before the two headed about a half-mile downstream in all all-terrain vehicle.

Meanwhile, family friend Jerry Stenseth said it would be easier to control the underwater camera with a layup stick, a 12-foot pole used by power companies to lift cables. The camera could simply be duct-taped to the hook on the end. The holes downstream would deepen to about 15 feet.

Two more underwater cameras were utilized as the search party reunited with Laapegaard and Anderson, who would mark off another half-dozen holes before moving another half-mile down river.

The cameras unveiled old bridge iron, appliance frames and an engine block, but no sign of the vehicle. After a break for lunch, Peterson said the search continued by the town hospital and fire hall, where there is easy access to the river. The search ended about 4 p.m.

"We didn't find anything at all," Peterson said. "We got all the areas covered that we wanted to. The family is being urged to continue to meet with law enforcement so that ideas and tips can be shared. The family is getting tips on their Web site."

Further updates can be found at www.helpfindgina.com.

Law enforcement was not involved in Saturday's search, but investigator Jim Van Schaick of the Thief River Falls Police Department encouraged the family's efforts.

"They have every right to be on that river," Van Schaick said.

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