Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

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Normal Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by NiteSpinR on Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:50 am

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By Alexis Weed, Nancy Grace Producer
January 18, 2010 8:12 a.m. EST

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New York (CNN) -- It was the last day of classes, and Brandon Swanson, a 19-year-old freshman at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, was celebrating with his friends.

Swanson called home shortly after midnight May 14, 2008, telling his parents he needed a ride because he had driven into a ditch in the neighboring town of Lynd, Minnesota. Annette and Brian Swanson immediately set out in their pickup to look for their son and his green Chevy Lumina sedan.

"We got in the pickup to go to this spot where he felt he was," Brian Swanson recalled. He thought he knew exactly where his son was, about 10 minutes from their home in Marshall.

"He was absolutely positive he knew where he was," Brian Swanson said. The parents stayed on the phone, talking to their son as they headed to pick him up.

But when they arrived, there was no car and no Brandon. They turned around and flashed the lights on their truck.

"We were saying, 'We're flashing our lights!' " Annette Swanson said. Over the phone, they could hear their son working the light switch in his car. Click-click, click-click.

"Don't you see me?" he asked.

"There was nothing," his father said, "absolutely nothing."

Everyone grew frustrated.

"At one point, he hung up on me, so I called him back and apologized," his mother said.

Swanson told his parents he would walk back to his friend's house in Lynd. His father drove home to drop Annette off and then headed back to look for the teen. They exchanged calls just before 2 a.m. and eventually carried on a long conversation while the younger Swanson was walking, trying to direct his father to where he was.

He told his father to look for him at a nightclub parking lot that was a popular meeting spot in Lynd. But at the 47-minute mark, the call ended abruptly. The teen shouted an expletive, and the phone went dead.

We called at least five or six more times. He never picked up the phone again.
Brian Swanson, missing teen's father

The Swansons turned to their son's friends for help. They searched all night, driving down dirt roads and through farmland. There was no sign of him.

At 6:30 a.m., Annette Swanson called the Lynd Police Department to report Brandon missing, and officers eventually joined the search. They, too, came up with nothing, and a countywide request was dispatched to expand the search.

The response was delayed because, officers pointed out, it was not that unusual for a 19-year-old to stay out all night after finishing college classes, Annette Swanson said.

One remark stayed with her: An officer said that at his age, her son "had a right to be missing."

Phone records later showed that the teen was nowhere near Lynd, where he told his parents he was. His cell phone calls were traced to a tower 20 miles away in Minnesota.

That afternoon, Lyon County police found Swanson's vehicle in Porter, approximately 25 miles from Lynd.

"It was off the side of a field approach, and the vehicle was hung up," Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Vizecky said. "It's sort of a sharp incline, nothing major but enough that the car would get hung up so the wheels are too high off the ground to get any traction."

Nothing else unusual was found at the site, and officers could not determine which direction the teen had headed after he left the vehicle.

"There's grass in the ditch and gravel on the road, so it's possible to leave that vehicle and not leave any tracks," Vizecky said.

Investigators brought in search dogs, and they led investigators to woods by the bank of the Yellow Medicine River. The river's depth ranges from knee high in certain areas to 15 feet in others. At the time Swanson went missing, it was flowing high and fast.

"There are two miles of the river in that area, and it took six hours to walk it," Vizecky said. He said he personally walked the river every day for 30 days.

"At the time, the dogs indicated, and it was believed, that he must have fallen in the river in that area," he added. "So we searched that area, on the premise that he'd be washed downstream."

But investigators are not convinced that the teen fell into the river. Vizecky said Swanson should have been found in the river or downstream, had he fallen in.

Annette Swanson said she is not convinced her son drowned, either.

"There really is nothing to indicate that he's in the river," she said. According to her, one bloodhound followed a scent from the stranded car down a gravel road to an abandoned farm.

"It was a long trail ... about three miles," she added. The new trail path also led to the Yellow Medicine River. "The dog actually jumped in the river, jumped back out, worked the trail up to another gravel road and then lost the scent," she said.

Vizecky leaves open the possibility of foul play.

"The only thing would have been if someone was in the shadows, and they got him that way," he said. "I can't say there wasn't someone else there, but I can't find any evidence of it."

Cadaver dogs and searchers, he explained, should have found a body or some evidence if Swanson had succumbed to the elements.

"I can't explain why clothing, belongings wouldn't surface," Vizecky said. "I can't explain why after searching for three weeks, [the dogs] could not smell anything."

The Swansons want to know what happened to their son.

"You know people don't vanish into thin air, but it sure seems like he did," Annette Swanson said.

The couple is responsible for the enactment of Brandon's Law, which became effective in Minnesota on July 1, 2009.

The law requires authorities to conduct a preliminary investigation without delay when a missing persons report is received.

Brandon Swanson has brown hair and blue eyes, stands 5'6" and weighs 125 pounds. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans, a white or black hat twisted to the side, and a white short-sleeved shirt

Anyone with information that could lead to the whereabouts of Brandon Swanson is asked to call the Lincoln County sheriff at (507) 694-1664.

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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by charminglane on Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:58 pm

Could he have been drunk and disoriented?
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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by janie on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:42 pm

charminglane wrote:Could he have been drunk and disoriented?
I was thinking the same thing. Did he take any pills at the party? His friends should be able to tell his parent's how he was acting when he left to go home.
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Post by Marica on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:46 pm

Dig deeper.
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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by Guest on Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:51 am

Seems like unless it jumps up and chokes them to get their attention, LE isn't going to make much effort in finding out what happened to this boy. A 19yo has a right to disappear? WTF kind of comment is that? Never mind, I know. I'm so fed up with these losers and criminals with a badge that give the rest of the good officers a bad name. Frustration with my x may be coming through--sorry.
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Post by Guest on Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:11 am

WithPurpose wrote:Seems like unless it jumps up and chokes them to get their attention, LE isn't going to make much effort in finding out what happened to this boy. A 19yo has a right to disappear? WTF kind of comment is that? Never mind, I know. I'm so fed up with these losers and criminals with a badge that give the rest of the good officers a bad name. Frustration with my x may be coming through--sorry.

Amen. It is hard when we have seen the bad officers in action. I know there are good ones out there. And it is bull that they have taken that kind of attitude. I am sure his family don't think he had a right to disappear and worry them day and night.
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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by Nama on Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:47 am

I just noticed the date of his disappearance. He's been missing almost 2 years.

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Post by CritterFan1 on Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:08 am

This is so darn sad. Anything new on the horizon in this case? Anyone know??
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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:50 am

This is the most recent post I could find:

April 22nd, 2010

Brandon Swanson

It’s been nearly two years since Brandon Swanson mysteriously disappeared in Minnesota and his family and authorities have not given up the search for Brandon and answers.

This weekend, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will resume searching for any sign of Brandon. KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls, SD is reporting that the BCA will bring in dogs to search a large portion of the Yellow Medicine river from Porter to Granite Falls.

Brandon was last seen in rural western Minnesota in May 2008. He was confused about his location and talking to his father on his cell phone when it suddenly went dead. Many searches have failed to locate Brandon.

UPDATE : No trace of Brandon was found during the weekend search. Crews are meeting this week to determine the next step in the search.

Click here to read about the ongoing effort to find Brandon. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


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Normal Footprints At The River's Edge

Post by NiteSpinR on Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:12 am

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After Swanson's disappearance, the Lyon County Sherriff's Department conducted searches for Brandon by ground, ATV, horseback, airplane and helicopter, but nothing was found. Swanson family, friends and volunteers have also repeatedly searched the area where Brandon had been walking.

After the Lyon County Sherriff's department officially called off the search, the Swanson family continued to fund and organize volunteer searches on their own. They have conducted multiple ground and water searches of the area, and also the nearby Yellow Medicine River.

On March 20, 2009, the Marshall Independent reported that Jeff Hasse of Search Rescue and Recovery Resources of Minnesota was the new search organizer for the Swanson family. Hasse told the Independent that a distance of 5.6 miles (100 square miles) is a common distance to cover in 95 percent of searches, and that the Swanson search had covered about 60 of those 100 square miles. Previous searches had not yielded any physical or investigative clues, however 134 canine cues (scents) have been found that point toward the northwest, toward Porter. Hasse determined that searches for Swanson the previous summer didn't go far enough in distance.

Because of the length of time that Brandon has been missing, the current search is now focused on finding Brandon's remains.

Hasse wrote on the official search page:
"This has been an exceptionally difficult and frustrating search. While there have been consistent and reliable indications that human remains are present in the area, we have yet to pinpoint the source (Brandon’s remains).

There are several possible explanations for this.

One of the main reasons why this is such a difficult search lies in the fact that the region receives nearly constant winds which can come from any direction. These winds move scent from the source and deposit it into “scent pools” such as wind breaks around farmsteads, tall grass in CRP land, and along ditches and creeks. When the dogs alert on an area of “hot” scent, it is often very difficult to differentiate whether we are near the remains or searching yet another scent pool.

We also may be facing the difficulty of locating remains that have been moved and/or scattered over a wide area. It is possible that predators such as coyotes, raccoons, and the like have scattered the remains. It is also possible that they have been inadvertently scattered or moved by human activity such as farmers tilling their fields or baling hay or cornstalks.

We also have some access issues. We can’t search everywhere we would like to search. We are very careful to protect landowner’s property and have generally avoided searching fields with crops in them even though there is a fair chance that Brandon ended up in a field. This leaves spring and fall available to us to search the many fields in the area. With the wet weather we had last fall and our early start this spring, we ended up searching very wet fields. This is miserable work. To effectively search a single 160-acre field, the team must walk in excess of ten miles in difficult footing.

In addition, we haven’t been able to search many pastures because of the cows. Even though the dogs are well trained to be around other animals, we avoid working around cows, especially during calving season. This leaves gaps in our search coverage and makes it difficult to eliminate an area from further consideration.

It is also possible that Brandon attempted to seek shelter from the wind near the end of his journey and crawled into an outbuilding or under old machinery and perished there. Because we are trying to avoid disrupting landowner’s lives as little as possible, we have only searched a few farmsteads."

These are only a few of the issues that make this a very difficult search."

- Jeffe Hass, Search Manager, SRRMN (March 2010).
Plans are underway to resume the search for Brandon in Spring 2011 as soon as the weather allows.



Brandon's Law
On March 12, 2009, Brian and Annette Swanson spoke before the House to help expand the Minnesota's Missing Children's Act so it can help missing and endangered adults. The bill, named Brandon's Law, would eliminate waiting periods when adults disappear under suspicious circumstances, or when young adults up to age 21 are reported missing under most circumstances. On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the bill into law.


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Normal Re: Teen Drove Into Ditch and Vanished As His Parents Searched

Post by NiteSpinR on Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:20 am


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