Search continues for apparent suicide victim
By Neal A. Shipman
Nearly one week after the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Dept. received notification that a man was possibly going to commit suicide in the Badlands south of Watford City, law enforcement officials are no closer to finding a body.
According to the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Dept., on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 24, the Sheriff’s Dept. received a call from Trans System of Sidney and Great Falls, Mont. requesting a welfare check on one of their drivers, Duncan James Templer, 51, of Hillsboro, N.D. Templer was reported to have been despondent over health issues and had informed his family members that he was going to commit suicide deep in the Badlands.
A deputy was dispatched and an unlocked and unoccupied semi was found at an overlook on U.S. Highway 85, approximately 22 miles south of Watford City.
After a lengthy foot search on Wednesday, by nearly 20 North Dakota law enforcement officers from the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Dept., the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Dept., the North Dakota Game & Fish Dept., the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Border Patrol, the search was called off for the day because of the extremely difficult terrain and hot temperatures.
“The area that was searched was not only extremely rough, but was covered with trees and brush,” stated Jerry Samuelson, McKenzie County Emergency Services coordinator.
The foot search continued on Thursday and Friday, again on foot, with assistance from search dogs from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, as well as with ATVs, and from the air with assistance from the Civil Air Patrol.
According to John Fulwider, McKenzie County sheriff, the family did a foot search over the weekend, and that the department plans to resume its search efforts on Wednesday, July 31.
“We did have a ping from Templer’s cell phone when he used it last which indicated he was on the east side of the Badlands,” stated Fulwider. “But we intend to search both sides of the Badlands.”
On Wednesday, according to Fulwider, law enforcement personnel will again begin searching the rugged terrain with the assistance of between 11 and 13 members of the Bismarck Mounted Horse Patrol.
“We will continue our search efforts until all resources are exhausted or Mr. Templer is found,” states Fulwider.