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How The Civil Air Patrol Helps Search For Missing People

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - It's now day three of the search to find a nine-year-old girl who disappeared in Pennington County.

Serenity Dennard went missing Sunday morning after she left Children's Home Society.

Authorities located the couple who may have been the last to see her and are talking with them to get a better idea of the timeline of events.

Investigators are now asking anyone with a game camera set up in the area to review the footage and let authorities know if you see anything.

Several agencies have been helping look for Serenity including the South Dakota Wing Civil Air Patrol. 

The trained volunteers were called in on Monday to search from the air and ground. 

The Pennington County Sheriff's Office says the organization's ground troops are at it again Tuesday. 

Lt. Col. Todd Epp with the Sioux Falls Composite Squadron says nearly 40 Civil Air Patrol members from South Dakota are helping out on scene and remotely. 

While KELOLAND News didn't talk with him in-depth about the case in the Black Hills, he did say when searchers in the sky are trying to find someone, they're looking for things that are not natural to the terrain. 

"If you see something purple, if you see something a break in the trees, those are the type of things we teach," Epp said. 

So, what about ground searches?

In those instances, he says you start with keeping your eyes peeled for the finer details. 

"Some of the things you might want to know in a missing person search is what kind of soda pop do they like, what kind of candy to they like," Epp said. 

And remember, while they are volunteers, they have the right skills for the job. 

"We have the training to know what to do or in some cases, more importantly, what not to do to really be of assistance to the first responders like Pennington County, Minnehaha County, or the State of South Dakota, FEMA, or whoever it might be," Epp said. 

This is just one of the services the Civil Air Patrol offers.

In total, their three missions are emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. 


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