Search crews in the Florida wildlife preserve where Gabby Petito’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie may have gone missing said they’re up against “very difficult,” swampy conditions — with the investigation complicated by him having several days to get ahead of them.
Laundrie, 23, had already been gone a full week when search efforts resumed Tuesday on the Venice side of the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County.
“The search area gets bigger every hour you don’t find him,” Chris Boyer, executive director of the non-profit National Association for Search and Rescue told The Post.
Boyer said the hunt becomes even more difficult if Laundrie “doesn’t want to be found and he’s being evasive.”
“It’s not that hard to hide from ground searchers that are just using their Mark I Eyeball,” Boyer added, using a military term that means naked eye.
“[It’s] pretty easy in that swamp, especially if you’re wearing clothes that blend in with the environment and don’t provide any contrast.”
The North Port Police Department, which is assisting the FBI with what’s now a criminal investigation, said that the vast preserve also presents challenges.
“Terrain’s very difficult. Essentially, 75 percent of it’s underwater, and other areas that are dry we’re trying to clear,” North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell said Tuesday. “So we’re expecting to get wet by the end of the day and check the entire area for Brian Laundrie.”
Fussell said search teams have enlisted ATVs, UTVs and drones to help them navigate the area.
“We have multiple drone operators that have been sent out and numerous teams, so we’ll mix the resources and deploy them out so that if they encounter flooded areas or terrain, they can access with these wheeled vehicles,” Fussell said in a YouTube video put out by the department.
Laundrie was reported missing Friday by his parents, who claimed that he left his home with a backpack on a hike three days earlier and never returned.
Experts said with the proper supplies, he could last a “pretty long time” in the wilderness.
“Look at that Olympic bomber [Eric Rudolph],” Boyer, executive director of the NASAR, said, referring to the man behind the 1996 Atlantic Olympics bombing attack who hid out for five years in the Appalachian wilderness.
“You can live a long time in these conditions, depending on what you pack with you, but eventually, he’ll have to come out for supplies — maybe he has a medical emergency, maybe he’s just interested in what’s happening because he’s so cut off from the world.”