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At approximately 2 pm on Friday, August 24, 2007, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Standards Executive Director Brooke Stauffer and his fiancée, Karen Dodds, went missing as she flew her small, single-engine plane over Lake Huron.
Their flight path was to take them from Mackinac Island, Mich., to Bad Axe, Mich., to visit some of Dodds’ family, but the plane never arrived.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol Search and Rescue (CAP), Royal Canadian Coast Guard and Michigan State Police (MSP) were dispatched immediately to the area to conduct a search. Family members called Brooke and Karen’s cell phones, but the calls went directly to voicemail, which generally means the phones are out of service or turned off. CAP dispatched a ground team to search for the plane’s electronic “ping” that would have been activated by an impact. However, the signal cannot be tracked if it is under water.
On Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, some debris matching the plane was found on a beach at Bois Blanc Island, which supports the belief that the plane was in water. CAP suspended air search efforts, and the MSP dispatched its Underwater Recovery Unit. After unsuccessful dive attempts and sonar scans, the MSP began working with the University of Michigan to create maps of the drift patterns of Lake Huron. However, by press time, the MSP still had found no sign of the plane or Brooke and Karen.
They are presumed dead at this time, but one of Karen’s family members asked a contact at the MSP how long a search of this type will go on until it is given up. The contact responded, “We never give up.”
Brooke joined NECA’s national headquarters staff in June 1995. His duties included overseeing the development of NECA’s series of National Installation Standards and safety resources. He was chairman of the National Fire Protection Association’s Electrical Section, which has overall responsibility for the National Electrical Code, and he was a principal on Code-Making Panel 1, NFPA. Brooke also wrote many articles on safety and standards for www.ECmag.com and this magazine, and he was one of our, as well as the nation’s, most highly regarded Code experts. (Editor’s note: Although Brooke never requested a byline, some of the material you have read in these pages credited to staff may have been Brooke’s work. He will be missed by all of us here at ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, and by the electrical industry as a whole. For more, see pages 8 and 165). EC