El Paso County Sheriff's Office utilizes new equipment in search for Gannon Stauch

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -- Search crews are utilizing new equipment in the Lorson Ranch area in their attempt to find clues that will lead them to Gannon Stauch.

Stauch disappeared on Jan. 27. His stepmother said she last saw him between 3:15 and 4 p.m. heading to a friend's home in their El Paso County neighborhood.

“Gannon is a vivacious 11-year-old boy,” said Cynthia Coffman, a close friend of the Stauch family.

On Thursday morning, a group of Fort Carson soldiers combed through fields near Fontaine Boulevard. They moved back branches and volunteered their time to search for Stauch.

“For them to be in the cold out looking for a little boy they don’t know – this community has just been phenomenal,” Coffman said.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to submerge a remotely operated sonar vehicle into undisclosed areas of water.

“All of us have Gannon in the forefront of our minds,” Sgt. Deborah Mynatt with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said.

FOX31 asked the sheriff's office about the surveillance video that was previously turned over from the Stauch's neighbor, Roderrick Drayton. Drayton said his video shows Stauch and his stepmom leaving their house together on the day he disappeared, but hours later, the neighbor says the video only shows the stepmom returning.

FOX31: “Can you comment on the surveillance video? The neighbor said the time stamp doesn’t match up with the statement Gannon’s step mother gave you."

El Paso County Sheriff's Office: “And that’s part of the investigation. The sheriff’s office won’t be commenting on that video or confirming any parts of the video at this time.”

While the sheriff’s office said it does not consider this a criminal investigation, Coffman is not ruling out foul play.

“Perhaps at some point later, the justice system will be involved in addressing anyone who might have participated in his disappearance but that’s down the road. Finding him is the focus,” Coffman said.

Coffman served a single term as attorney general of Colorado, and said her background and training leads her to believe there could be more to come from this investigation. She is urging everyone to continue to look for clues in Stauch’s disappearance.

“Look out for anything you think might be significant. The smallest thing you might have seen or heard might be the piece of the puzzle to find Gannon,” Coffman said.

The sheriff's office says volunteers will continue their search efforts for Stauch even in winter weather conditions.

Jim Hawkins with CPW says with the remotely operated sonar vehicle, they're able to search large underwater areas without divers.

"That's the reason we actually purchased the piece of equipment. There's a lot of lakes and bodies of water in the state of Colorado that are deeper than what a diver can actually do. So it allows us to go to those depths and recover the evidence that we need," said Hawkins.

Hawkins could not comment on Gannon's case specifically, but says the ROV is able to take photos and videos under water and even collect pieces of evidence to bring to the surface.

He says there are risks involved when using the equipment in freezing temperatures.

"The biggest thing is the ice. We have to use people in dry suits or ice rescue suits to actually saw through the ice and drop the ROV in the water," said Hawkins.

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