Editor's note: Marc Klaas initially wrote this blog in March. It does not reflect recent developments in the Sierra LaMar case.
I fielded 17 phone calls related to the disappearance of Sierra LaMar by the time I arrived at the search center around 10 a.m. Located about two miles from Sierra’s Morgan Hill home, the local school board for at least the next several weeks.
With access to an auditorium, administrative offices and classrooms that can be used for mapping, food and water storage, debriefing and quiet time, this is as ideal a search center as I have ever seen.
KlaasKids Search and Rescue Director Brad Dennis along with Dawn Davis from Laura Recovery Center in Friendswood, Texas were already dispatching volunteers in an effort to have the search center fully operational by 8 a.m. on March 17—the day the first community searches for Sierra will begin. Brad and Dawn have been organizing volunteer searches together for more than a decade and don’t waste a move.
Before arriving, I stopped at Carl’s Jr. to pick up lunch for the three of us, as well as for Michelle Le’s brother, Michael, and LaMar family friend Brian Miller. For some reason this case has captured the attention of local and national media, so I wasn’t surprised to find a half dozen television trucks dotting the parking lot when I arrived. On the other hand, I was surprised that the reporters documented every moment of my lunch delivery.
After lunch and the volunteer meet-and-greet, Brad, Michael and I went to scout some search locations. We arrived back at the search center close to 3 p.m. with preliminary assignments for at least a half dozen eight-member search teams.
Morgan Hill is nestled at the base of the Diablo Mountain range, which has an average elevation of about 3,000 feet. A summit at over 2,300 feet is considered high, mainly because the range is mostly rolling grassland and plateaus punctuated by sudden peaks, and canyons are usually 300-to-400-feet deep while valleys are deeper but gentler. The Diablo Mountain range isn't the most inviting topography we've had the challenge of searching, but it's not the most hostile either.
At 5 p.m. Sierra’s parents Steve and Marlene LaMar met with our search management team. Sierra is still missing, but I believe we're getting to know and trust each other. This is always a trying time because we're all staring into an uncertain future seeing different shades of light at the end of the tunnel.