Delaware City Fire Company details search for airman

Pictured is the Delaware City Fire Company’s Fireboat 15, which took part in a search for a missing Dover Air Force Base senior airman last month. (Submitted photo/Delaware City Fire Department)

Pictured is the Delaware City Fire Company’s Fireboat 15, which took part in a search for a missing Dover Air Force Base senior airman last month. (Submitted photo/Delaware City Fire Department)

DELAWARE CITY — In an operation described as at times “painstaking” the Delaware City Fire Company said it spent 31 hours searching water in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in an effort to locate a missing Dover Air Force Base senior airman.

Authorities were searching for Keifer Huhman, who was last seen leaving his Dover home on Feb. 7. His unoccupied truck was found about four hours later on the shoulder of the William V. Roth Jr. Bridge about 35 miles to the north.

Describing a decision made with a “heavy heart, 436th Airlift Wing commander Col. Michael Grismer declared Airman Huhman dead on Tuesday after reviewing “all investigative evidence and in accordance with current Air Force guidance.”

A memorial service was held Friday at Dover Air Force Base.

According to Bill Sahm, Delaware City Fire Company Marine captain, the company’s Fireboat 15 searched “every square inch of the canal bottom approximately 1,000 meters on each side of the Roth Bridge,” on a Monday through Friday quest.

“Throughout the week we found approximately eight high value targets,” that yielded no results, Mr. Sahm said.

Law enforcement, other fire company and military personnel also took part in the search, officials said.

The Delaware City company “dialed in the structure scan looking out both sides and directly beneath the boat while leaving a bread crumb trail on the chart plotter,” Mr. Sahm said.

On Feb. 15, Delaware City Fire Company said it received an American flag from the family in case Airman Huhman’s body was found.

Mr. Sahm said the flag is “stored on Fireboat 15 and is to be draped over the body if found.”

One last search was conducted with family members on March 1, Mr. Sahm said. During an operation that lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Fireboat 15 was piloted “as far west as the Summit Bridge and as far east as the Salem River outside the canal,” Mr. Sahm said.

According to fire officials, water temperature during the February search was 30.6 degrees and in early March it was 42 degrees.

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