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Robot aids authorities in search for teen missing in lake
Efforts will continue Monday, suspended due to busy weekend boating traffic
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“There has been an outpouring of love, concern and offers to help from the community. Michael, Tara and Ryan ask that anyone who wants to help the family to please pray and ask the Lord in sincere prayer to help the men and women who are searching for the body of Griffin to be guided and prompted to know where to look in the lake to find him so he can be laid to rest alongside his dear brother Jake. They are eternally grateful for the things people have done and can feel everyone’s prayers and love holding them up.”

Posting on Facebook memorial page for Jake and Griffin Prince

In the fourth day of the search on Lake Lanier for Griffin Prince, crews began using a robot with cameras and lights that can search the deepest areas of the lake.

Prince, 13, has been missing since a Monday night boating accident that killed his 9-year-old brother, Jake, in the area of Shoal Creek near Buford Dam.

Capt. Robert Estrada with Tow Boat US described the remote-operated vessel as a “mini submarine on a tether.”

In a lake with depths of 130 feet, little to no visibility and a dangerous underwater forest, the ROV can save time and effort in the search that will pick up again Monday after a break for busy weekend boat traffic.

Estrada said as he helped searchers Wednesday, he noticed the slow pace of the search and thought of his friend in San Diego who has an ROV used in deepwater rescue.

“(I) saw that they could only cover maybe 15 feet per day, and that’s just nothing for the area that this boat went down in,” said Estrada, who also responded to the incident Monday night.

He said he thought the ROV could go down instead of a diver to look at items that seemed suspect on the sonar system being used.

Rob Butler of Vessel Assist, a branch of Tow Boat US, shipped the ROV overnight to Estrada.

Maj. Woodrow Tripp of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said the equipment will aid where human divers are sometimes limited.

Estrada said authorities worked Friday to adjust the equipment to work in the freshwater environment, putting weights on and off and moving them around to get the right balance.

“So we’ve got all that done,” Estrada said. “So now Monday morning, we’ll be ready to use that and assist in recovering Griffin.”

Though divers will not be in the water, DNR will continue searching throughout the weekend with sonar.