SCOTTSBLUFF — The worries of the family of a man missing since Saturday continue to build the longer he remains gone. Searches for Chance Engelbert continued Thursday morning.
In an interview with the Star-Herald Wednesday, Baylee Englebert, the wife of Chance Englebert, said the family has gathered an $8,000 reward, hoping for information in Chance’s disappearance. Chance, 25, was last seen at about 8:30 p.m. after he left a Gering home Saturday night.
“Not to be cliché, but it’s pretty gut-wrenching,” Baylee said of the last few days as Chance’s family awaits word and hopes for Chance to be located. “It’s hard to stay hopeful.”
In addition to search crews, Chance’s family, who lives in South Dakota, have been in the area, doing their own searches. They have also been doing a lot, on social media in the area, to make sure people are aware of Chance’s disappearance and their need for the public’s help in finding him.
“We’ve just been trying to give people updates, if we have any,” Baylee said. “We’ve been sharing his photos around. We’ve been asking people if they have seen him. We’ve been passing out fliers, we’ve been hanging up fliers. About everything that we can think to do.”
The fliers are now being circulated on the social media of area law enforcement agencies for the public. The fliers have also been circulated to law enforcement throughout Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.
People have called and provided the family and police with tips, she said; mostly sightings in the Terrytown area seem legitimate. Some people have also told family members they may have information, but don’t want to say anything or be involved, which “is definitely a heartbreaker,” she acknowledged.
What would she say to those people who haven’t contacted police, but may have information helpful to the case?
“I would say, ‘Be empathetic and put yourself in our shoes.’ If it was your wife, your daughter, your husband or son, you would want all the help you could get, especially with it going on this long,” Baylee said. “The chances are significantly lower than it was in the beginning.”
Chance’s mother, Dawn Englebert, spoke during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. She was joined by Baylee, her husband Everett, son Miles and Baylee’s parents, Scott Bewley and Trace Devana.
“We just ask anybody to send any information (to authorities),” she said, crying and choking back tears. “Somebody had to see something and know something. This just isn’t Chance,” she said, saying he would have left home for a few hours to clear his head, but would have returned home to be with his son, wife and family.
“He is a family man. He loves his whole family. He wouldn’t have done this to us.”
During the press conference, Capt. Jason Rogers said search crews were still out, surveying areas in the northwest corners of Gering, including some of the badlands on Scotts Bluff National Monument property, the Bellevue addition and back along Owl Road in between National Park Service grounds and the North Platte River.
“We still have boots on the ground, out there searching,” he said, noting that 17 agencies are now involved with the Nebraska State Patrol having joined the operation.
Water in the Gering Central Canal has been shut off to allow search crews to walk along the canal, as well as a private drone operator viewing the canal. The drone operator started at Five Rocks Road and will follow the canal east until it terminates at the river.
Searches were completed Wednesday on the North Platte River with Scottsbluff Fire using watercraft, accompanied by a K9.
The search area, which has been mapped out into grids for crews, has been determined based off of cell phone and other data gathered from Engelbert’s phone, police said. Video from two businesses has shown Chance in Gering and in Terrytown.
Rogers reiterated that the public has been asked to assist police by providing any information they can.
Homeowners or business owners who may have video from Saturday night are asked to review their video and to contact police. Despite rumors to the contrary, Rogers said video footage showing Chance at Western Travel Terminal or Walmart has not been found.
Baylee’s mother, Trace Devana, urged private citizens with home security systems to also review their videos. People may believe that Chance may not have walked through their neighborhood, she said. It wouldn’t hurt to review footage, but could be helpful in pinpointing areas that Chance may have been.
Scott Bewley, Baylee’s father, encouraged anyone who may be scared to contact police to consider reporting information anonymously.
People who may have seen Chance or picked him up for a ride should also contact police. Property owners, especially in areas that the search crews have not covered in southwest Scottbluff and northwest Gering, are asked to check outbuildings, buildings or other areas where someone may have ducked to get out of the weather or take shelter, Rogers said.
“If anybody ... saw anything, heard anything, or just happened to be driving through Gering, Terrytown or this part of Scottsbluff and saw someone just walking around between 7:30 and as late as midnight, just give us a call. We’ll run down any information that somebody can give us if they were driving around.”
Rogers said a significant thunderstorm Saturday struck at about 9-9:15 p.m. and he asked anyone who may have seen someone walking at that time to contact police and it is a critical time for police as it would not be a time that someone would be expected to be walking.
As more time passes, Baylee told the Star-Herald, the family worries more. Baylee told the Star-Herald that one of the family’s biggest concerns is that he may be injured somewhere and unable to get aid. Her husband wouldn’t have left for a long period of time, she said, not having contacted her or his family.
Chance and Baylee married in October 2018, and have been together for nearly two years. She described him as a supportive husband.
“I couldn’t have been blessed with a better husband,” she said.
The couple had a son, Banks, in April. Chance is a dedicated father, and only wants the best for his son, Baylee said.
“He loves being a dad,” she said. “He was more excited about finding out I was pregnant than I was. He was jumping up and down. I was crying.”
Even though Banks was just months old, Chance talks to his son about trucks that he likes and “what a good pickup is and isn’t.” He would play with his son, encouraging him to crawl and walk.
Baylee describes Chance as a “super encouraging” husband and dad and as a family-oriented man. As a family member and friend, she said, Chance would drop anything to help anyone out, no matter the time of day or night.
His mother reiterated that during the press conference saying, “Sure, he liked to have fun, he partied, but he loved more.”
He often traveled to Edgemont, South Dakota, to help his family with their ranch. Recently, he was laid off after Blackjewel LLC closed two coal mines in Campbell County. However, he planned on starting a new job on Monday and if the mines re-opened, working both jobs, which family members said remain available. With the ranch work, she said, he would have been working three jobs, showing how hard he worked.
“He doesn’t stop until he physically can’t go anymore,” Baylee said.
Rogers said officials would decide after conducting searches Wednesday whether the search effort continues.
Dawn Englebert said funds for the reward have been donated by people in the Scottsbluff and Gering; Edgemont, South Dakota; and Torrington, and Gillette, Wyoming, communities. Anyone who wants to donate to the reward can do so through the Black Hills Federal Credit Union in care of the Chance Englebert Reward Fund. The address is 330 S. Chicago in Hot Springs, SD 57747. The bank can also be contacted at 800-482-2428.
Baylee encourages anyone with information to contact her at 308-631-4919, or to contact Gering Police at 308-436-5089.