Louisiana National Guard assists local authorities in finding missing man
By 2nd Lt. Mark J. Deshotels and Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo
Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS Approximately 40 Louisiana National Guardsmen assisting the Jefferson Parish Sheriff Office in the search and successful rescue for Dr. Francisco Piedrahita, the missing Columbian University rector, for the past two days in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Marrero.
We had four-man teams spread out about 50 meters apart, said Staff Sgt. Darren Murray, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, non-commissioned officer in charge of the mission. If the Soldiers would find any items of interest, then Jefferson Parish would send in detectives to investigate.
The mission of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is to preserve wildlife and wetlands, but this weekend, after missing for hours, the park became a search ground for Piedrahita.
The National Guardsmen support to the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs office allowed for an increased search party, joining other agencies, including the National Park Service, St. Charles Parish Sheriffs Office, Louisiana Search and Rescue, and the New Orleans Fire Department.
The Guardsmen found different items such as a walking cane and different items of clothing, not knowing if they belonged to Piedrahita.
At approximately 12:30, May 25, a call came in from a Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office Bell 407 helicopter citing a person matching the description of Piedrahita had been located.
When we got the call, they said that he seemed to be healthy, said Maj. John Demartini, 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, area of operations executive officer. We all knew we had to get to him fast.
The coordinates were relayed while the Soldiers and other responders rushed towards the site.
The National Guards assistance with the search has been instrumental because safety indeed comes in numbers, said Lt. Jamie Momfra with the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs office. The National Guards quick response to assist us was very impressive.
Both Soldiers and local authorities rejoiced in unison as Piedrahita was transferred to medical authorities.
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MARRERO, La. Louisiana National Guardsmen and local authorities rejoice as Dr. Francisco Piedrahita is retrieved from the swamps of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Marrero, La., May 25. Approximately 40 Guardsmen assisted the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs office, as well as the National Park Service, St. Charles Parish Sheriffs Office, Louisiana Search and Rescue, and the New Orleans Fire Department, totaling 111 personnel. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment / Released)