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Family of Gina Anderson plans own search of Red Lake River

Gina Anderson

GRAND FORKS - The family of Gina Anderson, the Thief River Falls woman missing since Oct. 23, will conduct their own search under the ice of the frozen river this weekend for any sign of Anderson or her car.

The Red Lake River curls up from the south and meets the Thief River in the city.

Law enforcement agencies won't be involved, but the search will be coordinated by Gary Peterson, the Rochester, Minn., man affiliated with Texas EquuSearch, according to Jackie Pagel, Anderson's sister.

In December, Peterson came to Thief River Falls for a few days and volunteered his time and the resources of the private nonprofit that has become known nationwide for helping in missing persons cases.

In an e-mail Tuesday to news media, Pagel said Peterson of EquuSearch plans to arrive Friday in Thief River Falls with another search expert from Indiana who has specialized equipment. The plan is to search the river Saturday through Tuesday.

Pagel, her parents, Steve and Judy Lappegaard, and Gina's husband, Jeremy Anderson, will be among several people who will use sonar and metal-detecting equipment through holes drilled in the ice on the river. All-terrain vehicles with Mattracks and snowmobiles will also be used.

Anderson was at work in Karlstad the day Gina last was seen about 2 p.m. Oct. 23, driving her bright yellow 2002 Pontiac away from their house. Gina last was heard exchanging a greeting by a man working on a nearby house. She left her purse and her seizure medication behind. No word or sign of her has been seen since.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office in Duluth has offered to bring to Thief River Falls its remote-operated mini-sub used for underwater searches, and the Thief River Falls police plan on using it later in February.

But Pagel said her family didn't want to wait that long.

"We will do anything we can to find Gina, and if the river needs to be ruled out, then we will do what we can to make it ruled out sooner," Pagel said.