Our Opinion: Volunteers rising to the task

February 17, 2002

The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area this weekend is filled with tens of thousands of people who have come to enjoy the outdoor resources of the Imperial Valley.

Some, though, put off their own off-roading fun to join in a search for a San Diego girl missing from her home since Feb. 1.

We praise those who Saturday joined the search for 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, combing the open desert in a desperate search for a girl whose disappearance — and likely abduction — has gained the attention of the country.

Police searched the Imperial Valley desert a week ago in their investigation into one possible suspect who was in the Valley on Feb. 3, two days after Danielle's disappearance. But police did not find much, if anything, and have concluded their search in the desert. At last report Friday, police had no plans to return to the Imperial Valley.


Still, they say they have not closed any doors in the case and they realize the Valley desert is expansive. They say they appreciate the help of volunteers. This weekend, the American Sand Association brought together hundreds of volunteers to search the Valley desert. It is a worthwhile effort — one that could be dependent on the work of volunteers.

Off-roaders have taken a bit of a beating in the media in recent months. This weekend's search should help reform an image tainted by the actions of a handful of meatheads. The truth is most off-roaders are good, helpful folks, and the search effort is proof of that.

Police have about 40 investigators assigned to the case, but no matter how hard they work, they are facing a daunting task. It is an effort that almost demands volunteer help if this case is to be concluded — and everyone hopes that conclusion will find Danielle alive.

It takes a supreme effort for people to volunteer their time. It is even harder to try to organize volunteers as the ASA has done in the Valley this weekend.

It is good to see the spirit of helping others is alive and well and can be found in our own back yard.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles