HomeNewsGabby Petito Case: More Agencies Join in Search of Florida Reserve, Bringing in ‘Swamp Buggy’

Gabby Petito Case: More Agencies Join in Search of Florida Reserve, Bringing in ‘Swamp Buggy’

by John Jamison
(Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

The search for Brian Laundrie has reached a fever pitch. After initially moving resources away from the Carlton Reserve area of Florida, multiple agencies are now combing through the dense environment in hopes of locating the ‘person of interest’ in the case of Gabby Petito’s death. And they’re bringing out the big guns.

By “big guns,” we mean swamp buggies. The natural reserve is essentially just a vast swamp. According to North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell, a search coordinator, the Carlton Reserve is 75% water. So to conduct an effective and thorough search of the area, the appropriate craft is required. Joe Fussell talked to Fox News about the ongoing efforts and coordination between agencies.

“They bring resources in, such a swamp buggies. These swamp buggies are important for us because you’re at higher altitude looking down, and you can get into the deeper water, the deeper marsh. About 75% of this area is water, and we can’t see how deep it is. So it’s more effective to bring these higher vehicles into those areas,” said Commander Joe Fussell.

Not only is the area of Carlton Reserve challenging to traverse, but it is also expansive. The sheer size of the search area means that multiple agencies have had to pool their resources.

“We partnered with other law enforcement in our community, in our region. We broke them into different groups to do a line search and a grid search throughout a specific area in the Carlton Reserve,” said Fussell. “We’re covering many, many acres. So we need all this manpower and all the staff that we can grab.”

Officials on the Gabby Petito case have gone back and forth about whether or not they should continue to dedicate resources to searching the nature preserve area.

Official Involved With Gabby Petito Case Thinks Brian Laundrie May Have Misled His Parents

On September 20, the North Port Police Department announced that they had ended their initial search at the Sarasota County reserve.

“Law enforcement agencies continue to search for Brian Laundrie, just not in Carlton Reserve. We currently believe we have exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there,” said Police Public Information Officer Josh Taylor.

A day later, authorities announced that they would refocus their search efforts on the Carlton Reserve area. They didn’t explicitly state why, but it could have something to do with the FBI’s involvement in the case.

Now, at least one official on the case thinks Brian Laundrie may have sent the authorities on a wild goose chase. Laundrie reportedly told his parents that he was going hiking in the area.

“People that are trying not to get caught for something sometimes use people, right? So he may have told his parents that’s where he’s going,” said Chris Boyer, the executive director of the National Association for Search and Rescue.