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Brandon Cuddy’s family voices frustration as Ogle County puts search on hold till snow melts

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OGLE COUNTY (WREX) — Since December 26, Billy Cuddy and his family have searched for Brandon Cuddy day after day.

"We bought a boat, used kayaks, searched the river and walked the river," Billy said.

The Cuddy family hosted a search party on January 9 to search along the Rock River between Byron and Oregon.

Billy also helped organize search parties to help find his brother, but since January 6 when the family found Brandon's car crashed on Route 2 by Kennedy Hill Road, the trail has gone cold. However, that's when Billy got a call from a Wisconsin search party.

"Getting that call from Wings of Hope was huge," Billy said. "One of the only things that gave us hope recently."

Wings for Hope Search and Rescue out of Wisconsin is a non-profit which specializes in finding missing persons. The group uses volunteers, boats, K9s, drones and sonar to locate people. Founder Bradley Steven Smith says the group had a lot of success last year.

"Last year we were involved in 58 search and rescues," Smith said. "We had a 100% success rate last year."

However, outside groups like Wings for Hope need permission from the leading law enforcement body to search. In this case, that group would be the Ogle County Sheriff's Department which said no to the group due to the weather.

"We have issues with the amount of snow that's on the ground and the likelihood of finding remains," Sheriff Brian VanVickle said.

VanVickle added that the deep snow can hurt the blood hounds and other K9 units that search for prolonged periods of time. He says the search will continue when the weather improves, and will bring in help from McHenry County and Christian Aid Ministries.

"Once the snow melts, it gives the dogs an opportunity to fully do their job," VanVickle said. "We will move forward, and we expect that to happen shortly with the weather forecast that we have."

Smith says he understands the county's decision and added that the offer stands if VanVickle changes his mind.

"They know the case better than we do," Smith said. "We're just looking in from above and only seeing half of the case."

On the other hand, the Cuddy's are frustrated with the county's decision, and believe if the group is offering their services, that they should be able to use them.

"We're just very frustrated and sad," Billy said. "We're not being given the chance to find him that we should be."

If you have any information on Brandon Cuddy, you can contact the family through Facebook or their website.

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William Ingalls

William Ingalls is the weekend reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford and went to high school at Christian Life.

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