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Dive teams search for missing girl

Investigations at waterway in the northern portion of Dallas County led officials to land again as tips evaporated into more questions about the location of missing 17-year-old Tarasha Benjamin.

Both the Selma Police Department and Calera Police Department’s Search and Rescue Unit searched for Benjamin, who has been missing since June 26.

Benjamin was last seen wearing short denim shorts, a white short-sleeve shirt with lime and purple stripes, a silver necklace and silver sandals. She pulled her hair back into a pony tail and has a tattoo on her right arm that says “Pooh,” her nickname.

Officers and rescue members began investigations early Friday morning and continued into the afternoon until leads ran out.

“We’re following up on any lead or any idea that may be able to lead us to either to a safe return of the missing person, or if this turns into a recovery situation, to that,” said William T Riley, Selma police chief.

Exact details of searching processes and locations by police officials remain vague so as not to interfere with investigations.

Consisting of 20 members of the Calera Fire and Calera Police Department, the Calera Search and Rescue Unit has served the state and region since 1999.

Personnel are trained to perform rescues ranging from confined spaces, such as a car or airplane, to underwater crime scene investigations, training which they use in accordance with the state EMA to assist all over the state, even reaching to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“Whatever we get called to, we try to handle,” said Clint Barnett, Deputy Chief of the Calera Police Department.

Members undergo intensive HAZMAT, underwater crime scene, salvage and recovery training through Dive Risk International or National Academy of Police Diving.

Officers encourage anyone with information about Tarasha Benjamin to contact the Selma Police Department’s secret witness line at 874-2190 or Crimestoppers at 877-3530.