Published Tuesday | June 19, 2007
Search continues for missing fisherman
BY JENNIFER PALMER AND LEIA BAEZ
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS
The search continued today for a fisherman who went missing Monday night on the Missouri River.
Rescue teams from five agencies were to be on the river throughout the day looking for Hector Mancilla, 44.
Authorities said they didn’t expect to find Mancilla alive.
“It’s clearly more of a recovery than a rescue,” said Marty Bilek, chief deputy Douglas County sheriff.
Mancilla’s boat was found — upright but empty — Monday evening, prompting family members to report him missing about 6:40 p.m.
Searchers combed the river until 1 a.m., then began searching again after daybreak.
A woman who had been seen in the boat with Mancilla earlier Monday was found safe Monday night.
Sgt. Teresa Negron, a police spokeswoman, said investigators had interviewed the woman. Negron said she did not know the woman’s relationship to Mancilla.
Mancilla dropped the woman off at Sandpiper Cove Marina north of downtown Omaha, then went back out on the river alone, police said.
Mancilla’s empty red Lund fishing boat, brown boots and an oar later were seen floating down the river.
Omaha police were searching the river by helicopter this morning, with assistance on the water from the Council Bluffs Fire Department and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. This afternoon, officials from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission were to continue searching.
Family members said Mancilla rarely drank alcohol while fishing and was a strong swimmer. He spent most of his free time fishing, said his brothers, Pedro Sr., Ramiro and Froylan.
Two friends of the Mancilla family, who happened to be boating on the river Monday night, notified the family when they saw the empty boat, the brothers said. Another boater found the boots and oar floating nearby.
Pedro Mancilla Sr. said family members rushed to the marina as soon as they were notified.
This isn’t the first time that Hector Mancilla has been out of contact with the family, he said. “It’s definitely the worst, though.”
Sheriff’s officials said fishing poles were inside the recovered boat.
Mancilla’s maroon Chevrolet Silverado truck was found in a nearby parking lot.
Mancilla’s brothers said they were trying to keep a positive attitude.
“We think he may have had an accident,” Ramiro Mancilla said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he swam across the river to shore.”
Staying positive got harder and harder, however, as the search wore on.