search and rescue

Gene Ralston and his wife, Sandy, are shown with their boat at their home in Kuna, Idaho on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The couple has volunteered in body searches since the early 1980s and most recently traveled to Canada with their boat, which uses side-scanning sonar to locate drowning victims. The Ralstons named their boat, Kathy G, after a young woman whose body they recovered in 2007. (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner)

I’ve been wanting to do a story about this couple since earlier this summer, but it never quite came together (they travel a lot). I’m glad I followed through and finally got a hold of them, because they had a pretty amazing story.

They have recovered the remains of 80 people over the past three decades, and when they told me it takes a “special person” to do what they do, I believed them, even more so after talking to some of the people they’ve worked with.

I’ve experienced losing loved ones, but I had never thought about what it would be like in the case of a tragedy where the body is not found, where families are robbed of the experience of laying their loved ones to rest.

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