Search Continues Wednesday For Missing Lafayette Man

Park workers reported hearing "moaning" overnight and searchers are coordinating their efforts after a 20-year-old Lafayette man left his river excursion group Sunday.


Hope welled Wednesday as state park workers reported hearing "moaning" near the area where 20-year-old Brett Olson of Lafayette went missing during a weekend float with friends and thousands of other tubers Sunday afternoon.

Olson, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student, travelled to Chico over the Labor Day weekend to be with friends and take part in the Chico Float, a traditional float down the Sacramento River favored by college students and locals.

Searchers reported to Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park Wednesday morning after employees reported hearing sounds of distress overnight. A nighttime search in low but rough terrain found no trace of the missing man. Olson's parents, Michael and Elizabeth, left their Lafayette home and are on the scene, handing out fliers bearing their son's picture and aiding the search effort.

"This is my son," Michael Olson said as a Chico Enterprise-Record reporter stood by watching him pass out fliers to Chico State University students, many of whom stopped to tell Olson how sorry they were and how they hoped his son would soon be found.

Teams of water- and air-borne rescuers have been on the river looking for Olson since he left a party of friends at a popular party haul-out known as Beer Can Beach at about 1 p.m. Sunday. Butte County sheriff's deputies said they are hoping Olson headed away from the river, although he may be lost in an area of nearly impassable undergrowth along the riverbank.

A sheriff's dispatcher said Wednesday that the rescue effort is focusing on the area where the "moans" were heard Tuesday, but that watercraft and other rescue vehicles are continuing the search along the river.

Glenn County Undersheriff Rich Warren told reporters that rescue teams from California State Parks and Butte County Search and Rescue searched the area, aided by a helicopter, Tuesday from midnight to about 5 a.m. today, Wednesday.

"We'll get the helicopter up as soon as we can, and we're trying to get resources from Butte and Glenn counties to coordinate a search south of Scotty's Boat Landing," Warren told a reporter from the Oroville Mercury-Register.

There still is hope that Olson made it off the river and is somewhere in Chico, Warren said. Olson is about 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.

A Facebook page labelled "Let's Bring Brett Home" had 21,000 supporters Wednesday morning, with Olson's friends in Lafayette and Cal Poly leading the effort to "get the word out" about his disappearance. Several had reportedly left the Bay Area for Chico to help with the search. Others have told Lamorinda Patch they are scouring video shot of the float trip and posted to YouTube to see if Olson was filmed.

Olson had been drinking alcohol, sheriff's investigators said, but friends said he was "evenly intoxicated" and didn't appear drunk when he walked away from them. Olson knows how to swim and is in good health, his parents told police, although he did not take his cellphone with him on the rafting trip.

His parents have said they intend to stay in the area and aid in the search for their son "as long as it takes."

Sue Haas September 05, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Keeping our fingers crossed. Amazing show of support for this young man.
Daniel Archuleta September 05, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Heres hoping they find him today. Warm nights up there...... hopefully it will just be a story he can tell his children
Raena Lynn September 05, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Lafayette is a close community and we are praying for a safe return home. Our two daughters who also attended the same high school. One daughter attending Butte Community College year younger than Brett and our eldest daughter finishing a last semester at Chico State are volunteering time this afternoon to help in any way possible in the search for Brett.
Danna Wright September 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
This is today's (Saturday 9/8/12) request for volunteers: WE WANT AS MANY PEOPLE POSSIBLE TO MEET AT THE STARBUCKS AT 246 BROADWAY STREET IN DOWNTOWN CHICO AT 10 AM. IF YOU WERE THINKING OF COMING UP TO HELP, WE CAN USE ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET. We will be organizing groups to cover different sections of the farmers market, spreading awareness and fliers. The fliers we will have available will be updated with the $10,000 dollar reward. We believe this added motivation will cause a lot more pro-activity among the Chico Locals. THEN WE WILL HAVE A SECOND MEETING AT 1:00pm AT THE SAME STARBUCKS. IF YOU CANNOT MAKE IT BY 10, PLEASE MAKE IT UP BY 1. At the second meeting we will organize activities for the rest of the day. Again, the Olson family cannot express how thankful they are for the massive support. Keep the love flowing!
Danna Wright September 09, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Update: The reward is now $50,000 and they need help in Chico still. This is today's (Sunday 9/9/12) announcement: ATTENTION EVERYONE IN CHICO: Today's search is going to be completely revolved around the lead Jason Conrad gave us. WE ARE GOING TO CHANGE THE LOCATION OF OUR MEETING TO AT SAFEWAY ON 1016 WEST SACRAMENTO AVENUE (next to walgreens, corner of nord and west sac) AT 10:00am SO WE ARE CENTRAL TO THE LOCATION BRETT WAS LAST SPOTTED. WE ARE WORKING SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE POLICE, SO OUR SEARCH WILL BE EXTREMELY ORGANIZED AND EFFICIENT. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT EVERYONE SHOWS UP TO OUR EVENT AT 10:00am INSTEAD OF SEARCHING ON THEIR OWN. OUR DIRECTION AND LEADERSHIP WILL VASTLY IMPROVE CHANCES OF FINDING BRETT. If you have been a leader in our previous volunteer searches, expect a call in the morning, and prepare to come early. Thank you all, and keep the prayers and positivity flowing! http://www.facebook.com/events/113674542116042/?context=create


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