Search of national forest for missing woman called off

Photo from the scene of the search on Sunday (WCIV)

AWENDAW, S.C. (WCIV) -- In its second day, the search for a Mount Pleasant woman intensified.

A group of about 100 local law enforcement, fire and rescue and emergency officials combed the same area visited on Saturday by search dogs -- an area in the Francis Marion National Forest where the burnt car of Dara Watson was removed.

Charleston County Sheriff's Office spokesman Major James Brady said search efforts began at 9 a.m. on Sunday with double the resources. By 10 a.m. the first crews were deep in the woods, stirring leaves and turning dirt.

"We came out to expand the search that we initially started yesterday," Brady said. "To look for any evidence, any clues of anything that might tie into the case for the missing person, and to give it a better opportunity to search the areas a little bit deeper than what we did yesterday."

More than a dozen agencies participated in the search that involved thorough combing of areas identified on Saturday. The sheriff's office's helicopter was also used.

"We had seven search groups with about seven to 10 people for each search group," Brady said.

Those search groups worked several miles of wooded area, and just before 3:30 p.m. the search was ended with no results.

"We will go until we are fairly confident that the areas we checked are clear of anything of value," Brady said.

Maj. Brady said search efforts would not resume in the area unless there were new leads.

Watson was officially reported missing on Friday. According to Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell, officials with the U.S. Forestry Commission discovered her burnt car in the woods near Halfway Creek Road in Awendaw later that day.

According to a missing person's report filed with the Mount Pleasant Police Department, investigators spoke to her fiance, David Hedrick about an argument the couple had on Monday night. Hedrick reportedly told officers Watson left home on Tuesday morning.

On Friday, at approximately 12:45 p.m., Hedrick was found dead inside his home at North Creek Drive. Deputy coroner, Scott Ramsey,{}won't confirm how he died -- only to say it is under investigation.

Family members of Dara Watson were present at the search on Sunday. Maj. Brady said they were anxious for updates.

"They just wanted to get a feel for the area," Brady said. "...Where the vehicle was located and just get a feel for the area of the search and the magnitude of what was going on with the search."

Investigators have stressed the search is currently a search for a missing person. Dara Watson is approximately 5-foot-4 and 127 pounds. She has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone in contact with Watson is asked to contact the Mount Pleasant Police Department at 843-884-4176.