Here we go again trying to get basic information from police
My encounter in the police station was typical and went something like this: The woman-officer at the front desk in the entrance to the precinct: “Shalom, can I help you?” I answered, “Yes, I called earlier several times. I want to help with the search and I have some good rescue dogs in the car.” The officer responded, what search, who are you?” I am a commander of a volunteer canine unit that helps police and families search for missing people…” She stopped me in the middle of my shpiel, “I will give you the number of the officer overseeing the search, Kol Hakavod.” I think to myself, oh no, not this again, but I am still staying calm as I ask, “Can’t you just call him, I have been trying for hours to reach him…”. Just as we were talking, the officer in charge - Yitzak walks right by us quickly, and she shouts, “Yitzhak this is the dog- guy who called earlier, he wants to help with the search.”
LUCKILY THE OFFICER RECOGNIZES ME FROM A PREVIOUS SEARCH
Initially, Yitzhak pays zero attention until he realizes that he recognizes me from a search earlier this year in the Ben Shemen forest. He turns around and engages in immediate discourse about Delgado, “Delgado only speaks Spanish, nobody is searching for him beyond patrol cars on the roads, but not in the nearby fields and brush. We could really use your help. I have no map for you but he was last seen taking a taxi without money from the market and the taxi driver through him out of his car near the university.” I ask, “What university, what street?” Yitzhak answers, “Down that way near the big white building/tower?” “What white building, what street, I am not from Ramla”. Yitzhak responds, I think it is called Rehov HaZayit. Is that the name, Rehov Hazayit?” he asks the woman officer sitting there. She nods her head, yes. I asked again to see a map to no avail and I headed out towards Zait Street looking for a campus and a white building/tower.
THE SEARCH FOR BASIC CLUES AND INFORMATION CONTINUES – LIKE A PUZZLE
The white building was several blocks away from the campus entrance. Which place was he let off by the taxi? I decided to try my luck with the family. I reached Delgado’s daughter on the phone and she gave me some further insights into the case and into the exact spot where the taxi left her father off.
We then met some volunteers from the local municipality near the fields adjacent to the campus, and they showed us where they had searched. I asked them why they did not continue deeper into the fields and they said they thought an old man could not walk that far. I told them that statistically this was not the case and we were set to search the full depth of that field, stretching about a kilometer in one direction and several kilometers in another. If he walked straight that would be approximately 1 kilometer depth. We were right. But who knows, maybe he turned right and walkedthrough other fields towards Beer Yaakov, that could be a few kilometers the other way. We drove around the area and the borders of the field to get a feel for the area and to decide where we would begin the search. While it was still not perfectly clear where the exact spot was where Degaldo was last seen, we decided that we need to start while we still have a few good hours of sunlight and that we would try and get more information and more of our dogs and handlers to join us before dark.
We have to start the search, every second could be crucial
Aryeh, our noble volunteer dog handler, always eager to save a life and to search, started to cover the first few hundred meters from the probable last point where the subject was last seen. I drove through part of the fields as I continued trying to call for more dogs and volunteers and more info as I drove around the area trying to map out where we would send our next team. I showed local shepherds Degaldo’s photo and I observed Aryeh’s searching techniques and pattern. Aryeh may only be 17 but he has turned into quite a pro as he zigzagged through the fields, not missing any spots, using the dog and the little wind that we had to its fullest to cover ground as swiftly and effectively as one can hope for. I am truly inspired by the level of dedication and the motivation and spirit of our volunteers.
Finally the police sent a helicopter over us - flying over the fields. They focused on the next field, which would have been our next area to search, and sure enough they spotted the body about 450 meters deeper into the field. Unfortunately Hurcha Delgado was no longer alive. Clearly had the helicopter been launched earlier or had we been called into search days earlier, Delgado probably could have been found alive. Delgado simply took a rest at the end of the fields near some trees and must have dehydrated and slept through it all until he died. The heat-wave that prevailed over the previous day did not help matters.
After Zaka removed the body we remained to do certain training exercises with the dogs in the general area, that would help us in future searches to detect human remains.
Obviously we do everything humanly possible to save the subject while he is yet alive, however, we need to be prepared to find a missing person who might have already passed away to bring him to a proper Jewish burial, should that be the case. In Jewish law this is referred to as Hessed Shel Emet -True Hessed – true good deed as the dead person can no-longer reward you or smile and say “thanks”. Especially in such cases where there are often no other people out there searching for the lost soul. It hurts me to think of a Jewish person lying in a field waiting to die. It is also a horrible thought to think of a fellow Jew, who has already passed away who lies in a field like a dead animal, heaven forbid, rotting and being eaten up by maggots eating the flesh and by wild animals as they drag the body through the fields. With the families living in uncertainty without ever knowing what happened to their loved ones and without a grave to visit to say kadish by.