Partner’s death prompts Jamestown woman to helpOne Jamestown woman is starting to organize an effort to raise enough funds so no one else here will have to go through the pain she endured earlier this winter.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
One Jamestown woman is starting to organize an effort to raise enough funds so no one else here will have to go through the pain she endured earlier this winter.
Leanne Buckley lost her longtime partner Darrin Ackerman, 49, when he fell through the ice in December while ice fishing.
She hopes to raise enough funds so the Jamestown Dive and Rescue Team can purchase a remote operated vehicle, the same piece of equipment that ultimately found and retrieved Ackerman.
“We need one, and we sat for eight days, and I can’t even explain how it was —it was just heartbreaking,” Buckley said.
Divers combed the waters of the Jamestown Reservoir for a week without locating Ackerman. In the end it took high-tech equipment from Fargo and Duluth, Minn., to ultimately find him.
“If he would have been under that ice all winter I don’t know what would have happened to us,” Buckley said.
An ROV, like the one used in the search, is about the size of a 12-pack of soda and has multiple cameras, sonar and a mechanical arm. The unit officials want in Jamestown costs about $75,000.
”It’s outstanding, it’s remarkable that somebody wants to do that after they lost a loved one,” said Jim Reuther, chief of the Jamestown Fire Department, of Buckley’s plan to raise funds.
Reuther, along with Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser, was at the scene during the search and saw how quickly one piece of machinery can make a difference.
“One day’s work with a ROV found him (Ackerman),” Kaiser said. “We could have saved 11 days of manpower and equipment (costs).”
Buckley has no formal plans in place for a fundraiser yet, in part because more and more people want to help.
“I got people coming at me from all directions, and that’s great but let’s get it on one page here,” she said.
Buckley does plan to set up an account at Gate City Bank for an ROV in memory of Ackerman.
She also wants to hold a large daylong fundraiser with food, a bake sale, silent auction and one or more bands, but that’s still being planned.
Buckley said she just wants to help the dive and rescue team so no else goes through what her family did.
“He’s been on that lake his whole life and if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody,” she said.
Reuther is also in the process of obtaining a $100,000 grant for more dive equipment and possibly some funds for an ROV. More divers will soon be able to join the Diver and Rescue Team here.
Fifteen members from the fire department, sheriff’s office and police department will join together to add more manpower to the team. This will more than double the team as there are currently seven members.
An ROV would make their work safer and less time consuming, Kaiser said. Plus it could be used for evidence searches, and as a tool to monitor the structural integrity of Jmestown and Pipestem dams, he said.
If Buckley’s efforts are successful, Jamestown will be the second city in North Dakota to have that equipment.
“When we get help like this from the community — it’s enormous,” said Scott Edinger, chief of the Jamestown Police Department.
If interested in helping Buckley with the fundraising efforts, call her at 269-4833, or Sara at 251-8353.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org