‘We will keep searching until we find my son’ says Corrie McKeague’s mother after first public search scours five square miles of rural Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 11:47 18 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:16 18 December 2016
Richard Marsham - RMG Photography Tel - 07798 758711
The mother of missing RAF Honington team medic Corrie McKeague has thanked the public for their support after their first search found no trace of the Scottish serviceman.
Nearly 80 people, including search and rescue charities, scoured a large area between RAF Honington and Barton Mills yesterday (December 18).
Corrie’s mother, Nicola Urquhart, said there were three locations which will be searched by cadaver dogs to rule them out completely, but she does not believe Corrie is anywhere in the five square miles they searched on Saturday.
Nicola, who organised the search along with her family and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue, said the past two days have been a “rollercoaster” of emotions.
“Yesterday, it was the first time in my head that I was preparing myself for finding Corrie’s body,” she said. “Today my mentality is that if we don’t know any different, my son could still be alive and out there.
“It has been incredibly hard – it is the first time I have been on that rollercoaster. But I have to get myself in the mind set that Corrie could still be out there.”
The search teams included SULSAR volunteers and members of similar charities in Cambridge and Norfolk. For the first time 30 members of the public were also involved in the search, while charity 4x4 Response helped ferry the volunteers to search locations.
Nicola is confident the search was carried out to the same standards as previous police searches, meaning the area can be added to the long list of locations already ruled out by police.
She said thank you to all those who took part, including a lady who took it on herself to boil water in her own house all day long to ensure the searchers had a steady supply of hot drinks after their own equipment developed technical problems.
Corrie, 23, was posted to RAF Honington’s RAF Regiment 2 Squadron three years ago. Originally from Fife, Scotland, he went missing 12 weeks ago after a night out in Bury St Edmunds on Friday September 23.
He was seen on Brentgovel Street, Bury, at 3.24am on September 24 when he passed a CCTV camera in the town before entering a loading area.
His mobile phone was traced through phone masts to Barton Mills at around 4.30am the same day.
The area being searched yesterday was between Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, and RAF Honington.
Nicola explained that none of the 40 to 50 square mile stretch has been searched by police before.
Yesterday’s six hour search of a small part of that land, starting near to RAF Honington, was guided by the theory that Corrie could have attempted to walk home from Bury before being put in a vehicle near to the base and being driven towards Barton Mills.
He could also have been driven to Barton Mills before trying to make his way back to RAF Honington.
Nicola, a Police Scotland family liaison officer herself, added: “We did not find anything to suggest Corrie had been in that area yesterday. We won’t stop until Corrie has been found.”
Despite earlier criticism, she stressed that she has complete confidence in the work of Suffolk Constabulary’s investigation. She said she has issue with one decision they made, but has nothing but respect and gratitude for the officers who have worked for hundreds of hours on the hunt for Corrie.
Nicola said: “I would not expect the police to start spending their resources on searching every single field. If they did that for every one who went missing they would run out of money.”
She said Suffolk police have already spent more resources than most missing person investigations would be given.
“We all have the same goal and that is finding Corrie,” she said. “I know every officer wants to find him as much as everyone else involved.”
Rewards of more than £60,000 have been set up by Corrie’s family, with his grandparents on his dad side putting forward a five-figure sum and an anonymous couple offering £50,000 through Nicola’s side of the family.
If you have any information then phone the Suffolk incident room on 01473 782019. You can also phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
Tip lines set up by Corrie’s family can also be contacted on 07379 333 024, 07379 333 025, 07379 333 026, 07379 333 027 and 07379 333 028.