Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 | 3:34 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 | 12:16 a.m.
Vigil scheduled Saturday
A candlelight vigil for 17-year-old William Mootz is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Green Valley High School, 460 Arroyo Grande Blvd., Henderson. Those attending are asked to gather near the school's "Committed to Excellence" sign.
William Mootz was supposed to start his senior year at Green Valley High School on Monday. Instead, the campus will host a candlelight vigil in his honor this evening, a day after searchers recovered his body in a marshy area about a mile from Sam Boyd Stadium.
Mootz, 17, had been missing since Wednesday, when he fell into the Pittman Wash near Stephanie Street and Sunset Road and was carried away by rushing waters caused by heavy rain.
His body was found around 10:30 a.m. Friday in wetlands west of Broadbent Boulevard, entangled in a grouping of trees and bushes and covered in a light layer of mud and silt, officials said.
Now the hours of searching and hoping will give way to reflection and remembrance. At 8 p.m., the Mootz family will hold a vigil for him at Green Valley High School in Henderson.
“It’s been a long three days. … Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way anybody wanted it to,” said Charlie Mootz, William’s father. “We’re bringing him home.”
More than 600 volunteers, including students and teachers from Green Valley High School, Boy Scouts, the Red Rock Search and Rescue Team and others participated in the search, which stretched over three days.
Searching began almost immediately after reports that Mootz had been swept away during a heavy rainstorm Wednesday morning. During a news conference, Henderson Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Lytle indicated Mootz had put a foot into the channel and was pulled in by the force and speed of the water.
Henderson Police and Fire and Metro Police led the search, which covered land, air and water and included the use of helicopters and search dogs.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Henderson Police called off the search until Monday morning. But volunteers clad in heavy boots began showing up at 6 a.m. Friday to begin the search again, wading out into the muddy wash to search for Mootz.
“This is seriously rough terrain. For us to be able to cover that entire area by ourselves would take a significant amount of time,” Lytle said. ”Having all those volunteers to saturate the area was excellent.”
The search was called off shortly before 11 a.m. and the volunteers gathered back at the Sam Boyd Stadium parking lot, where a headquarters had been established.
The mood was tense as volunteers awaited any news on Mootz’s condition, and emotions spilled out when it was confirmed that a body matching his description had been found.
An off-duty Metro Police officer and other volunteers, including a close friend of Mootz’s, discovered the body about three-quarters of a mile in from where the concrete channel of the Pittman Wash ends near the stadium, Lytle said. The wetlands where the body was found had areas of chest-high water and was filled with muck and debris.
A Clark County Flood Control District spokesman said more than 5,000 cubic feet of water per second was cascading through the wash on Wednesday. The water speed, along with the channel’s raised walls would make it difficult for anyone to survive a fall into the channel, Lytle said.