Five months after floods, search continues for missing Breathitt Co. woman

Published: Jan. 7, 2023 at 9:32 PM CST
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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been more than five months since 60-year-old Vanessa Baker went missing from the Lost Creek community. But search and rescue crews were still hopeful they could find her Saturday.

“We’ve been planning this for three weeks,” said Chief John May of Wolfe County Search and Rescue about Saturday’s large-scale search.

“It’s important we exhaust all our resources and try to bring Miss Baker home,” said Trooper Matt Gayheart with KSP Post 13 in Hazard.

Wolfe County Search and Rescue says those resources came across the state and beyond - 23 agencies and around 180 searchers, all looking for one last missing person from July’s floods.

“This was about a 12-mile stretch of the North Fork of the Kentucky River,” May said.

Chief May showed how they can track progress back at the command center, with a detailed map of their search area.

“Each one of these lines is actually a searcher...that’s an image that a drone captured by flying this section of river,” said May as he pointed to the lines and dots draped across a screen in the command center, provided by Campbell County’s Search and Rescue team.

The drone specifically took pictures of any maroon mixed into the mess. Crews say maroon was the last color Baker wore when she went missing.

After hours of rummaging along the river’s banks and digging up debris, these crews are leaving the North Fork of the Kentucky River very much so like how they found it - still in search of a missing Kentuckian.

Crews had already thoroughly searched the Lower River Caney area where Baker lived and Chief May says this was the next logical step.

In spite of their best efforts, they have to go back to the drawing board after another long day.

“The work started with over 1,000 missing people and we’re down to one now,” Trooper Gayheart said. “That’s significant, but the job is not done.”