Cajun Navy uses technology to recover body of missing Baton Roug - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cajun Navy uses technology to recover body of missing Baton Rouge woman

Kerald Smith and Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family) Kerald Smith and Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family)
Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family) Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family)
Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family) Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family)
Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family) Sadie Thibodeaux (Source: Family)
(WAFB) -

"I don't think we could have did without it," said Kerald Smith, Sadie Thibodeaux's ed-husband.

Smith is referring to finding the body of his ex-wife, Sadie Thibodeaux, in Lake Pontchartrain with the help of technology and the United Cajun Navy, led by Todd Terrell.

VIDEO: Cajun Navy assisting in search on Lake Pontchartrain for missing Sadie Thibodeaux

"If we could have got Todd Monday, I don't know if she was still alive or not, but he would have been able to do what he did a lot quicker," Smith said.

One of Thibodeaux's friends contacted the United Cajun Navy, asking them to step in to help with the search.

Thibodeaux and a friend went for a sailboat ride on Sunday in Lake Pontchartrain, then decided to take a swim. Because their boat was not anchored, they lost sight of the boat. Thibodeaux's friend was found alive nearly 13 hours after crews found their unmanned sailboat. It took Terrell to find Thibodeaux's body.

"Unfortunately, I saw it right away and I knew right away," Terrell said.

With the help of four boats and volunteers, Terrell used a computer assisted program called Patriot Emergency Response Team (PERT). It's a system that puts anyone such as family, volunteers, even law enforcement all on the same page, allowing them to all share resources.

"I think we have a little better technology as volunteers. We can do a little bit different things," Terrell said.

The Coast Guard, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), and the New Orleans Police Department had been searching for Thibodeaux since Sunday. Terrell compared the boat's last known location to the current and wind conditions on a grid narrowing in on a very small area in Lake Pontchartrain and then funneled all that information through PERT.

"Through the use of the drones and our PERT system, we were able to get a lot of information real fast to our guys," Terrell said.

Their notes from PERT show the boats left at 5:13 p.m. and less than ten minutes later, Terrell used the Zellow app to reach out to Smith. Because all of Thibodeaux's family was on the same channel, he did not want to tell them what he had found over radio.

"I called him and he was like, 'Hey, does she have a tattoo on her back?' and I said, 'Yes, she does.' And I knew, I knew right away," said Smith.

But Smith says they had already come to terms with the idea of Thibodeaux's death. At that point, they simply wanted to find her. "The biggest thing is not knowing. I didn't want to not know. I didn't want to wonder where she was. I wanted to know where she was," Smith said.

Thanks to the Cajun Navy and advanced technology, the Thibodeaux family can finally begin healing.

"I did tell the family I was going to bring her home and unfortunately, we brought her home, just not the way we wanted to," Terrell said.

A celebration of Thibodeaux's life will be held at the Healing Place Church Annex on Friday, August 10 at 3 p.m.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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