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Gardner search resumes

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Search and Rescue teams and officials from Gallatin and Madison County have resumed the search mission that had been suspended on March 28, 2011, for Bradley Gardner, a 24-year-old Big Sky resident who had not been seen since March 9.

Friday night, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s department and Big Sky Search and Rescue held a planning meeting to coordinate a search effort over the weekend. The plan for the weekend of June 9 was to send in search and rescue dog teams to cover the areas of greatest probability. A total of 10 dog teams from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah are assisting in the search.

“The area is very large and we are hopeful that the expertise of the special dogs teams will provide additional search coverage,” stated Incident Commander Ian Parker.

Bradley — known to friends as Brad — is suspected to have left the ski area. Teams worked extensively following his disappearance, searching the backcountry south and west of Lone Peak with a helicopter, snowmobiles, dog teams, skiers, snowshoers, and resources from nearby ski patrols and the Forest Service.

Brad’s father, Ed Gardner, has been in Big Sky since his son disappeared. In the last eight days, he’s been in Lone Lake Cirque twice, he said, “because that’s an area of significant interest.” Mr. Gardner also went to the top of the Dakota lift area with three of Brad’s friends.

“There was still a lot of deep snow at the top of the Dakota Lift,” he said. “It was clear why [the search teams] couldn’t have done anything until now.”

Ed Gardner hopes the warm weather will melt the snow making the search more efficient. He also thinks the search dogs will be a great asset.

“If they’re not [successful this weekend],” Mr. Garner said, “that’s when we may need to get support from private parties so we can go up into certain areas regularly. Right now the issue is snow.”

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