James Whitaker, Underwater Search Expert, on Rita Cosby: “I have the equipment to go out and search in that area”
Well, the latest round of searches for Natalee Holloway are in the sand dunes of Aruba. Divers are still planning to take to the waters off Aruba, in the coming weeks to look for clues. LIVE & DIRECT tonight is underwater search specialist James Whitaker; he just got back from a few days in Aruba.
James, I want to start with this new information about the sand dunes. You were talking to authorities down there. What did they tell you as sort of what is leading them back to the dunes? Did they tell you a friend of Joran’s was giving new clues?
JAMES WHITAKER, UNDERWATER SEARCH SPECIALIST: No, they didn’t elaborate on what the clue was. They just said there was good, credible information to lead them there. And we actually found out about it after they were on already there working the area.
COSBY: When did they start it, James? How long have they been out there? Two days? How long?
WHITAKER: It’s been about two days now, yeah.
COSBY: You’ve seen the site for yourself. Sort of describe it for our viewers. I was out there, too.
WHITAKER: Well, this is a volcanic island. There’s lots of big boulders and big piles of rocks. And there’s wind blowing all the time in one direction. It piles and drifts the sand. It’s pretty deep in areas.
COSBY: You know, I understand that your team offered Aruban authorities your equipment. You’ve got pretty good state-of-the-art equipment. What was their response? I understand they were a little tepid.
WHITAKER: Well, that’s true. They never took the offer seriously from my take on it. But we were talking about using ground penetrating radar which is more appropriate for this area, because the cadaver dogs will be somewhat limited with high winds. They have to get their nose right in thereÃ¢â‚¬”
COSBY: What do you think, was it because you’re an outsider, James?
What was the reason?
WHITAKER: Well, I don’t have a take on that. I don’t know whatÃ¢â‚¬”why they’re standoffish. Maybe they may take our offer up after they’re finished doing what they’reÃ¢â‚¬”what they have planned there with the cadaver dogs, and using all the searching people they have there. Maybe they will use the ground penetrating radar at the end of it, but we have no indication of that at this point.
COSBY: Now, separately I know you’re looking at the waters. You’ll be checking about five miles off the coast there. Why is that area so key? Explain to our viewersÃ¢â‚¬”I was there. It’s right near the fisherman’s hut. Right where the cage was missing, there was a knife, when the hut was broken into that night when Natalee vanished. Describe why that area seems to be key and Dompig, the police chief is leading you there.
WHITAKER: The other story is, as you say, the missing trap, which is a steel crab trap of sufficient size. It’s larger than traps we use in this country. And it’s big enough for her to be put into and taken out to sea and dumped. And sea has been searched out to 150 feet of water depth. But the equipment they had down there, that’s all the deeper they could get. Three to five miles out we’re approaching the deepest part of 1,000 feet. I have the equipment to go out and search in that area. That’s what the plan is.
COSBY: We wish you a lot of luck. Please keep us posted, Jim, thank you very much.