SILVERDALE – Dozens of community members, neighbors and family members of a missing 17-year-old girl gathered at Silverdale Waterfront Park on Saturday to help aid in search efforts.
Under cloudy skies, with morning temperatures in the low-40s, volunteers walked the shoreline, launched video recording drones, and unmoored boats to help look for Hevi Muhaz Tahir, a senior at Olympic High School who had been missing for five days. Police say there is evidence she entered the frigid waters of Dyes Inlet.
Family members offered gratitude to the volunteers, who were continuing recovery efforts after police concluded their search on Wednesday.
Muhaz Abdul-Hakim, Ms. Tahir’s father, shook hands and thanked those gathered. Other family members passed out cereal bars and bottles of water after hours had gone by, with still no sign of the missing girl.
“Everybody should pray for her,” Abdul-Hakim said. “And please help search.”
Ms. Tahir was reported missing by her family after she did not return home from school on Monday. Mr. Abdul-Hakim found his daughter’s car parked at Silverdale Waterfront Park early Tuesday morning.
Police say there is evidence she entered the water on Monday afternoon. There are no reported signs of foul play.
While the family and emergency responders continue to seek answers, community members – including Ms. Tahir’s extended family and members of the Kurdish community – flocked to the last place Ms. Tahir was known to have been, to provide whatever assistance they could.
Hobbyist drone pilots sent their aircraft up to a mile or more from shore, scanning Dyes Inlet with cameras.
Jay Sager, a member of a local drone club that meets weekly, said that offering assistance in rescue and recovery efforts is something they “want to do more of.”
The pilots recorded hours of footage which they would review on high definition monitors later, or send to the sheriff’s office.
While some took to the air, others took to the sea.
Joe Munzi, a former Navy service member and fire science instructor at West Sound Tech, donned scuba gear and dove for more than an hour, investigating the waters near the dock.
“I’m glad the community’s here,” he said while pulling on his wetsuit in the parking lot. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Karen Bolton, a faculty member at Olympic College, helped lead a party of hikers who walked the shoreline near the park. A man unmoored his boat to search the inlet, while others launched kayaks.
Brandy Williams, a member of Kitsap Showing Up for Racial Justice, which helped organize the event, said many of her fellow volunteers, particularly the mothers, identified with a small part of Ms. Tahir’s family’s story.
“A lot of people here have teenagers who have gone through that moment, where life is really, really hard,” she said. “People wanted to come out and say, ‘we’re here. We support you.”
Abdul-Hakim, speaking near the water’s edge Saturday morning, was still trying to piece together what had transpired over the last week. His family moved to Bremerton only two months ago from Kent, after emigrating from northern Iraq as refugees in 2015.
He said his family spent a nice weekend before his daughter’s disappearance. His wife cooked a large family meal.
“I don’t understand why she went in,” he said. “Why did she do this?”
Search efforts will continue through Sunday. To volunteer, visit the “Help find Hevi” Facebook page.
Family members ask that anyone with knowledge of Ms. Tahir’s whereabouts, or information about her disappearance, contact the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 337-7117 or dial 911.