Douglas joins search for missing girls | RecordCourier.com
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Douglas joins search for missing girls

by Merrie Leininger

Douglas County Search and Rescue volunteers helped with an extensive search Tuesday in Alpine County after two young girls were reported missing at Lake Alpine near Bear Valley.

The girls – Mallory Smith, 12, of Vallejo and Rebecca Liberty, 8, of Stockton – were last seen by Rebecca’s father Tom Liberty about 5 p.m. Monday when they left him fishing at the lake to walk back to their vehicle to get gum.

The car was parked about 1/8 of a mile away, and when the girls did not return after a half hour, Liberty started searching, then called police about 6 p.m.

Lake Alpine is in the southwest corner of the small, heavily-forested county.

The area is very rugged with no major highways and located in the Sierra Nevada.

Temperatures dipped into the 40s overnight and Mallory was only wearing a swimsuit when she was last seen, authorities said.

Liberty had just moved to the area, which is about 64 miles from Minden, a month ago.

Douglas County and Alpine County Search and Rescue volunteers were immediately dispatched and worked throughout the night Monday with a dog team.

A call was issued Tuesday evening for all of Douglas County’s 40 Search and Rescue volunteers to report to Alpine County.

Sgt. Lance Modispacher of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said no foul play was suspected.

“There is no indication of an abduction, but it has not been ruled out,” he said.

Sheriff’s deputies from Douglas, Alpine and El Dorado counties are working together in the investigation.

“We work closely together and are cross-deputized to work together in emergencies,” said Modispacher.

Lt. Al Baumruck of the DCSO has been involved in search and rescue efforts in the past. He explained how the search probably took place.

“A command post would be established in the area where they were last seen. The search and rescue personnel will begin a grid or a circular search from the last known sighting. After each grid is thoroughly searched, it will be marked off by that group and searched again by another group,” said Baumruck.

Because the area has such varied landscape and searchers use different methods, each grid is checked many times, he said.

Baumruck said the Douglas County Mounted Posse volunteered to participate in the search, but were told the area is so rugged, it would be impossible for horse trailers to get in and out.

As of Tuesday afternoon, five posse members had joined the search on foot, he said. Two helicopter helicopter crews were also searching for the girls Tuesday.