Colonial Heights firefighters continue their search for missing man

Posted at 11:06 PM, Dec 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-27 23:25:17-05

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Searchers were on a boat today looking for a Colonial Heights man missing since Christmas Eve. And today, firefighters were out on the water looking for any signs of him. It's been three days--are they're getting any closer to finding John Pratsinak?

There are few clues in the disappearance of Pratsinak. Trained volunteers had focused on Fort Clifton and a park behind Tussing elementary school. But now the focus turns to the water.

Firefighters once again out on Swift Creek looking for any signs of the missing man, which is a mission far different than fighting fire.

Wayne Covil 2

Lt. Troy Allen, of the Colonial Heights Fire Department said, "We don't necessarily know that he's out here, but we're just doing everything we can to search all the locations that he could possibly be.

"It's not part of the job that you look forward too."

These firefighters understand just how important their job is.

"If you are able to find someone that's missing and that helps towards closure for the family, that's what doing this job is about," Allen said.

At least once a day, a crew is going out on Swift Creek.

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John Pratsinak

"We're at low tide now and that's going to reveal a lot more of the bank and shallow part," said Colonial Heights Firefighter Andrew Tatum

"I'm scanning the sides of the river and the river banks,” added Allen.  “I’m looking for anything that doesn't look normal that might stand out" added Allen.

And on Saturday afternoon, the crew got some extra help in the form of Med-Flight, the Virginia State Police helicopter.

For family and friends of John Pratsinak, the continued search means continued hope.

"It gives us comfort, it's knowing someone’s out there look and trying hard to find him," said Pratsinak’s friend Blair Slagle.

And all involved here know one thing for certain.

"That's what doing this job is all about, is doing what you can for the family," Allen said.

It takes time for the small boat and three firefighters to make their way down Swift Creek--carefully looking for any signs.

While it isn't certain Pratsinak went near the water Christmas Eve, he is familiar with the area because he lives nearby.

Firefighters will continue to patrol Swift Creek at least once a day for the next several days and say that they are doing all that they can to help bring answers and closure for the family.

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