Weather conditions send search team for 9-year-old Serenity Dennard home

Published: Feb. 6, 2019 at 7:17 PM CST
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9-year-old Serenity Dennard ran away from The Black Hills Children's Home four days ago. On Tuesday night, the Pennington County Sheriff's Office called off the rescue operation, switching the search to a recovery effort.

The scene on Wednesday looked drastically different compared to the last two days.

When Serenity Dennard ran off from the Black Hills Children's Home Society near Rockerville her disappearance sparked a massive search and rescue effort.

The search was reclassified as a recovery effort on Tuesday night as hope began to dwindle that she would be found safe.

But due to weather conditions that effort was called off for Wednesday.

A bustling scene with upwards of 200 people devoted to a single mission dissolved to a much quieter scene.

On Tuesday the area next to the parking lot of the Children's Home Society was packed with several trucks and hundreds of people ready to hike up into the hills. Now not one searcher in sight. With the heavy snow and more wind, the searchers cannot look for Serenity Dennard in this type of weather.

"We don't have ground crews out there right now we do have deputies in the command post. We have them driving in the area looking for anything still talking to anyone who may have any information in the area so we have a presence but we don't have 100 people out going through the woods today due to the extreme circumstances," Pennington County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Kraig Wood said.

Officials say they have not given up hope. But the situation is not ideal.

"We're still hopeful that we can have a good outcome on this. Obviously, if Serenity did not get into a warm place or was not picked up and she's still out there in the woods due to the weather conditions and everything that's probably not a good outcome," Pennington County Sheriff Chief Deputy Willie Welchel said.

Three days of searching on the ground and through the air, much of it mapped with sophisticated GPS tracking technology. Yet, still could not locate Serenity.

"That is where people with GPS's have been searching."

Authorities are waiting until the weekend to resume the search with some specially trained dogs from Iowa.

"Obviously this is a very tragic situation due to weather and the area out there and all that but we're still hoping that Serenity might have found a warm place to get into or someone might have picked her up out there, seen her on the road or in that area," Welchel said.