Search and rescue efforts continue for missing Breathitt Co. women

Search and rescue efforts continue for missing Breathitt Co. women
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Search and rescue teams are still hard at work to find two Breathitt County women who have been missing for more than two weeks.

The county’s emergency management team says several county’s crews (including Lee, Laurel, Powell and Wolfe) have come into support the effort, as they look for 29-year-old Nancy Cundiff and 60-year-old Vanessa Baker.

An area which used to be an open grassy field that sat beside Caney Creek is now covered in mud and dotted by debris piles. Search and rescue crews are scouring this spot along Lower River Caney Road, where the search for Baker continues.

Powell County Search and Rescue Chief Billy Wilcox says crews found points of interests both along Ky. Highway 476 - where Cundiff lived - and where they were working along Caney Creek.

Wilcox says they’ve brought in side-by-side’s and ATVs to manage the difficult terrain, and even some of those units got stuck over the weekend.

“It’s a really, really wet sand that’s soft, kind of mixed with some clay in it,” said Wilcox. “So it all just sticks you right in there and you won’t be able to get out.”

Excavators came in from Breathitt County to move larger debris and K-9 units helped find those points of interest, or “hotspots”, which Wilcox says could be anything from a big brush pile to a random spot in the mud.

“We just watch them at all times and if they look like they’re interested in something, we just mark that area and will go back with people to research that area more thoroughly,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox conceded that the ends to these searches aren’t always happy, particularly as the days continue to pass. But he says their goal is to make sure that there is an ending.

“We hold all hope out,” said Wilcox. “But with it being two weeks, we kind of switch over to the recovery side of that point. We always like to have good outcomes...but sometimes that’s just closure for the family.”

Wilcox says his team likely won’t be able to get back here for another week or more as they are all volunteers. But Jackson fire officials say that the search will continue for days, weeks - however long it takes to find these missing women.

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