Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to witness true heroes in our community as they went over and above the call of duty to help bring a little girl home.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Chief Russell Roark and his department for making the tough decision to continue the search for 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams. This decision was made in spite of the fact there was no guarantee of success and no money available to put the plan into action.
Chief Roark marshaled resources from state and local agencies. The governor's office and the state Guard agreed to help. More than 400 men and women who cared about the mission signed up to sift through tons of garbage. All of this was happening even though some believed the child was still alive and they dismissed the efforts to exhaust the best leads in the case.
These local heroes were assisted by another group of dedicated professionals, staff from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who have conducted landfill searches across this nation. They provided critical oversight to the search plan and helped coordinate the use of searchers, the equipment they would need and the precise removal of debris in the target cell.
Thanks must also go to the management of the landfill in Richland County, a Waste Management facility. The manager and staff worked closely with the search team to stop dumping in the target cell and cooperated with the efforts to search over many weeks.
Now, Nevaeh is home and will be given a proper homegoing service. Her family can start to find closure in this tragic set of circumstances, and this community can begin to heal and look for solutions to domestic violence that rips at our families and causes our state to lead the nation in such deaths year after year.
We need to never forget the dedication and sacrifices of all those who helped make this mission a success, and we need to make sure they know how much we appreciate them from the bottom of our hearts.
ERNEST "CHIP" FINNEY III
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