Sheriff’s Office joins search efforts for missing teen’s body



EL CENTRO -  Officials with the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office sent out a team of four divers to search the canal for 18-year-old Damian Placencia’s body.

This effort comes after a request was made from the Placencia family who believed the teen’s body might still be in the same location in the canal.

18-year-old Damian Placencia drowned in the All-American Canal in Calexico earlier this month.

Friends say they were swimming when Placencia slipped underneath the water and never came back up.

Law enforcement officers believe the current below swept him away and is holding his body somewhere underneath the water – along the vast canal.

Despite several agencies including Calexico Police, Border Patrol, and the Imperial Irrigation District searching by air and with cadaver dogs – the family accused the officials of not doing enough to recover the body.

Now, the Imperial County Sheriff’s has stepped in to search for Placencia’s body.

“Well, the drowning occurred in Calexico’s jurisdiction, and we were notified until a couple of days after the incident. However, there were search efforts that were being conducted by the Imperial Irrigation District. It was determined at that time that some of the methods they were using were above and beyond the capabilities of the Sheriff’s Office,” says Lt. Scott Sheppeard.

Officials say the Imperial Irrigation District searched for the body on foot, under the water with cameras and using sonar sound systems – which can detect a body through sound waves from the surface.

But because search efforts from the Imperial Irrigation District have not found a body – the Placencia family requested help from the Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Sheppeard says, “The Sheriff’s Office came in at the request of the family, as well as other agencies within the county – the IID and the Calexico Police Department – to assist with diving. That area was attempted to be searched by the Imperial Irrigation District, but the family felt that the victim might still be down in that area.”

The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office say there was no sign of Placencia’s body. They do not plan to deploy their dive team to continue searching.