Search and Rescue Diver Relies on Garmin to Find Missing Persons

Jeremy Sides, also known by his YouTube handle “Exploring with Nug,” is in the business of finding what’s been lost. A hobbyist-turned-careerist, Sides is a Navy veteran who started scuba diving simply to look for interesting spoils — old bottles, motorcycles, guns and once even a pair of Civil War-era dentures. He has since moved on to missions where the stakes are higher: taking on cold cases to find missing persons.  

“When I first started, I would get online and start looking through missing person databases,” Sides told Garmin after we came upon his story and realized he was using our sonar technology to aid in his searching. “The stories where people vanish in their cars are the ones I’m looking for. Once I read into that, a person usually will just disappear, and their car also disappeared with them. So I’ll look in the city they were last seen in, and in some cases there’s a giant body of water in their city. I’ll go in their town and start running sonar on the water.”

But Sides’ search and rescue services are becoming increasingly popular — these days it’s less scanning databases and more investigating cold cases at the request of loved ones still clinging to the hope of finding closure. In December 2021, a search and rescue mission Sides filmed went viral, documenting the process in which his Garmin ECHOMAP™ Ultra 126sv led him to find two Tennessee teenagers who hadn’t been seen or heard from in 21 years. The teenagers’ remains were found in their car in the bottom of a river in Sparta, Tennessee, providing answers for friends and family who had long gone without.

“I’m lost for words,” Sides says to the camera in the video. “I’m so glad I could find them. I’m so sad that that’s where they ended up, and I can’t believe it’s been over 20 years they’ve been sitting there waiting for someone to find them. I’m glad I did. It’s a weird mix of emotions. I can’t even explain it. But this isn’t about me — this is about getting them home, and we’re going to do that today.”

Sides uses the Ultra High-Definition SideVϋ technology on his ECHOMAP to search below the water’s surface. “It works really well,” he said. “It’s very detailed, and it helps me identify structures underwater.” When he finds something worth investigating — typically a car — he’ll either dive down right then or save the location as a waypoint to return to later.

“I’ve dove on numerous cars that we’ve found,” he says, several of which contained missing persons. Others were simply stolen and removed from the water using a tow company.

When Garmin learned that Sides was using our sonar technology to identify structures along river and lake bottoms, we realized he could benefit from our diving technology as well — so we sent him a Garmin Descent™ Mk2i dive computer and T1 transmitter to aid in the search once he’s found something worth checking out.

“It’s an essential piece of equipment,” he says of the paired technology. “It eliminates the whole pressure gauge attached to a hose dangling in your face when you’re diving. It makes it more convenient, and you always know where your dive watch is. It’s very vibrant under water.”

To follow along as Sides continues to use Garmin sonar technology to solve cases, visit  his YouTube channel, Exploring with Nug.