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July 4, 2015

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Family, volunteers coordinate search for teen who fell into Pittman Wash


Steve Marcus

Kylie Grossnicklaus, center, and other volunteers search for Henderson teen William Mootz near the Duck Creek channel, north of Sam Boyd Stadium Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Mootz, a Green Valley High School student, was swept away by storm run off in the Pittman Wash Wednesday.

Updated Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 | 1:52 a.m.

Search for Missing Teen

A Metro Search and Rescue helicopter drops off Search and Rescue Officer John Thayer during a search for Henderson teen William Mootz near the Duck Creek channel, north of Sam Boyd Stadium, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Mootz, a Green Valley High School student, was swept away by storm run-off in the Pittman Wash Wednesday. Launch slideshow »

Teen goes missing in flooded Pittman Wash

KSNV reports that a high school senior fell into a flooded wash and went missing on Aug. 22.

Pittman Wash Debris Cleanup

Pittman Wash in Henderson is seen on Thursday, August 23, 2012, the day after rainstorms flooded areas of the Las Vegas Valley . Launch slideshow »

The Mootz family will not stop.

Late Wednesday morning, William Mootz, a 17-year-old Green Valley High School senior, fell into a flooded Pittman Wash. Henderson Police and fire crews, along with the Mootz family and more than 200 volunteers, have scoured the muck- and debris-caked wash finding nary a trace in two days.

Although Henderson Police at 6 p.m. Thursday called off the search until Monday morning, the Mootz family has not given up hope. Volunteer and family friend Kevin Britton said the Mootzes are coordinating today’s search.

“It kind of stung, but at this point it will not stop what we’re doing,” Britton said of the police decision. “... If it were a different family, it would have hindered them, but this is a nonstop, do-what-you-have-to-do family.”

Mootz fell into the wash behind the Target at Stephanie Street and Sunset Road. A police search began almost immediately.

Mootz's sister Christina said she turned to email, social media and the telephone, enlisting friends to walk the sides of the wash in an effort to locate her brother. Before the group called it a night at 10 p.m. Wednesday, more than 80 volunteers, including members of William's Boy Scout troop and the Red Rock Search and Rescue group, were assisting the effort to find William. The volunteers resumed searching Thursday.

"He's an awesome little brother and one of my best friends," Christina Mootz, 21, said. "We hope we find him soon in enough health that he'll heal."

Britton, 21, described the Boy Scout as "your stereotypical 17-year-old boy. If it sounds adventurous enough, he’ll do it.”

William wrestles at school, knows how to hunt and recently returned from a camping trip in Alaska.

“If anyone were prepared for an outdoor wilderness situation like this, it would be William,” Britton said.

While others searched, Christina lent moral support at a makeshift headquarters for the volunteers. Though she'd like to join, Christina's father told her that he didn't want to lose another of his four children.

Mark Omo, a member of William's Boy Scout troop, said the volunteers were searching alongside the wash, looking for unusual shapes and brush that Mootz might have gotten caught up on.

Britton said volunteers have searched from Lake Las Vegas to Sunset Road and Stephanie Street. Henderson Police spokesman Keith Paul said that about 30 people from the Henderson Police and the Henderson Fire Department, along with Metro Police and two helicopters, have covered the area from where Mootz fell in to Broadbent Boulevard.

Henderson Public Works employees have removed 10 to 15 tons of debris during the search.

Omo said he hoped his fellow Scout was only knocked unconscious and is in a dry area where he can be found. Christina Mootz is even more hopeful.

"I'm sure he's going to make it. He's probably curled up somewhere, too tired to move," she said.

Paul said search crews plan to bring out search dogs Monday and walk the entire wash area from Broadbent Boulevard and Lake Las Vegas, but the situation is bleak.

“We always want to hold out hope, but at this point we are trying to locate him,” Paul said.

Meanwhile, the Mootzes and their crew of volunteers planned to be at the wash on South Broadbent Boulevard near Sam Boyd Stadium at 6 a.m. today. Britton said there still is plenty of hope that William will be found alive.

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