Search for missing woman continues
A Fayetteville family is in Eugene, Oregon this week as a search for their missing 22-year-old daughter Abigael Bellows goes into its second week.
Abby, as she is known to her many friends here, disappeared July 22 while swimming with friends in the Middle Fork Williamette River Near Clearwater park.
Witnesses told rescuers she disappeared under the water and didn’t resurface. The Lane County Sheriff’s Department quickly began search and rescue operations, using kayaks, divers, search dogs and teams who combed the river’s shore.
Parents Garth and Tressa Bellows flew to Oregon Friday with their two other daughters, 18-year-old Eliza and 15-year-old Ivy, to help in the ongoing rescue and recovery operations.
“We won‘t stop looking,” Tressa Bellows said by phone from Oregon Tuesday afternoon. “(Searchers) are galvanized. They are out (looking for Abby) on kayaks, on foot, putting fliers out.”
As the sun dipped low in the sky Tuesday afternoon, Abigael still hadn’t been found.
“The only thing getting us through is our (other) children,” Tressa said of the family’s ordeal. “(Garth) and I are trying to make sure we are taking care of them every day.”
A community united to help
The Bellows family has a lot of support from their hometown community, as well as a network of Abby’s friends in Oregon. A GoFundMe drive started by another local couple, Alison and David Welch, has raised nearly $34,000 in just two days.
The funds will help defray the Bellows expenses in Oregon and help pay for special search teams being brought in to help with the search.
“The love and support has been tremendous,” Tressa said Of both funding and prayers from home. “And they are doing it all from across the country.”
Abigael Maree Bellows was born Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998, the firstborn of Tressa and Garth Bellows. She is a 2016 Chambersburg Area Senior High School graduate. After high school she attended Duquesne University, where she was an honors student.
She left college two years ago to pursue environmental interests. It was at that time that she moved to Oregon.
Tressa said her eldest daughter fell in love with Oregon after visiting the area. She was a woman with strong friendships both in her hometown and adopted home.
Her mother calls her incredibly beautiful, smart, loving and full of hope and positivity. Friends on both the East and West Coast agree.
Vigils for Abby will take place both Chambersburg and in Eugene Wednesday.
Her friend Chase Williams plans a cacao ceremony in honor of Abigael’s spirit at noon, Pacific coast time, at the Rohedendron Garden above Hendricks Park in Eugene. Friends there also plan a River Aide vigil and short memorial at the site of her disappearance, according to social media posts.
A candlelight vigil and lantern launch happens in Chambers Fort Park Wednesday night for Abby. Taylor Cline, Jodi Bellows and Ray Sunshine are hosting the event.
That vigil starts at 7:45 p.m. with prayer and a memorial song at 8. Candle lighting takes place at 8:15 with the lantern launch at 8:45.
Candles and lanterns will be provided, but participants can Lao bring their own. Parking is available in the Rosedale parking lot behind Main Street Deli.
The fund raising effort
Tressa and Garth are experiencing something that no family should have to experience, friends Alison and David Welsh wrote when creating the GoFundMe page.
They explained the situation and asked the community to support the family.
“Please help ease this burden for them as they have so many other stresses right now,” they wrote.
The community responded, not only financially, but with prayers and words of encouragement and support.
About the search and rescue effort
Search crews responded immediately after witnesses saw Abby disappear into the water and not resurface. They have been searching for a week, using all search and rescue resources available.
This week a team from Wisconsin’s Wings of Hope arrived to help in the search. The non-profit helps families find lost loved ones with the collaboration of police, DNR, and other rescue departments.
Wings of Hope is located in central Wisconsin, but travel from state to state should the need for their services arise.
They use remotely operated underwater drones utilizing state of the art underwater sonar and 3D imaging.Aerial drones add state of the art thermal imaging as well as live imaging.
Rescuers continue to comb the area where Abby disappeared, and beyond, with every resource available, including boats, divers, dogs and drones.
Tressa described searchers as galvanized, intent on finding Abby so her family can bring her home.