Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I thought things couldn’t get much worse in this town. From the story of the tortured teen to the parade of perverts to the random shootings and stabbings I thought Tracy had reached its plateau of despair. It couldn’t get worse I thought. Saturday I found out I was wrong, it could get worse, much worse.
The first sign I knew something bad had happened in town was the CHP helicopter circling overhead. They are a like a bad omen of a news event unfolding. Eight-year-old Sandra Cantu vanished from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home park last Friday evening touching off a massive search effort. Saturday morning a nearby hotel parking lot became the base of operations for the search as volunteers and search crews fanned out across the city to find the young girl.
The first hours were a flurry of action. Empty fields were searched; emergency response teams went door-to-door in nearby neighborhoods and missing posters sprouted around town. As darkness came a candlelight vigil hoped for a safe return.
Five days have passed with no sign of Sandra. Driving to a press conference this morning the town seemed different. The first things you notice are the missing posters. They are everywhere around town, on cars light poles, business window and counters. Sandra’s face stands a quiet vigil as the search continues.
As the days grow since her disappearance the media interest in the story has increased. A handful of news crews on the first day have grown to the dozens or so camera trucks parked across the street from the mobile home park entrance. The story has reached the national news as even some of my work on the search has made it to the Associated Press service. Driving to different assignments around town I pass their trucks with satellite dishes, such an odd site around town. The only time they are on our roads is when there is some sensational event or tragedy befalling us.
The news is not any better now than the first day. This morning after the press conference I headed to the waste transfer site where volunteers sifted through loads of incoming garbage in hopes of finding some clue to Sandra’s whereabouts.
It doesn’t seem fair that our town has seen so much drama and angst as of late. From the loss of another soldier in the war, to the various acts of violence and perversion it seems we have had our fair share and then some of pain and suffering. I think I need just one week where nothing bad or sad happens so I can catch my breath but I know that isn’t the way the world works. Police officers at one of the press conferences vowed they would not give up the search. This is their community and they would strive to bring her home. Whatever happens here good or bad, I echo their words, this is our community and we never give up.