Police Reports

Traveling divers recover truck submerged in Winooski River since 2006 – but no sign of missing owner

Photo from AWP Facebook page

A traveling band of rescue divers and salvage experts this week helped recover from the Winooski River the submerged truck of a Waterbury man who disappeared 16 years ago this month.

Adventures With Purpose (AWP) is a Search & Recovery Dive Team dedicated to helping families of missing loved ones. The group’s website claims it has solved 24 missing person cold cases since 2019.

AWP posted the photo above on its Facebook Page with the following message: “Donnie Messier Truck Found. Missing 15 Years. Dredging Operation Commencing. Location: Winooski River, Waterbury, Vermont. Missing Since Oct 15, 2006. 10’ Underwater in River. Top of Truck Missing. Buried in Rocks, Silt/Sand. Family on Scene. State Police on Scene. Reporters on Scene.”

The Vermont State Police said yesterday it has concluded operations in and around the Winooski River in Waterbury as part of this week’s search related to the 2006 disappearance of Donald Messier of Waterbury. Messier, 34, of Waterbury was reported missing by family members on Oct. 18, 2006, three days after he was last seen at a party in Waitsfield.

Searchers confirmed that a vehicle located this week by Adventures With Purpose was Messier’s truck, based on the vehicle description and attached license plates. An examination of the vehicle located personal effects, but investigators have uncovered no obvious human remains at this point in the search.

Crews including the Vermont State Police Scuba Team and Crime Scene Search Team were on scene for 12 hours Thursday, ending operations at about 9 p.m. Adventures With Purpose also was present at the scene throughout the day and provided dredging equipment VSP divers utilized. Elite Towing removed the truck from the Winooski River, and E&S Transport ultimately transported the vehicle from the scene. Also present and providing assistance were the Waterbury Fire Department and Duxbury Town Highway Department.

CSST members will continue to process the truck on Friday and look for any additional evidence that might be useful in the search for Messier.

During the recovery effort Thursday night, a tow-truck operator with E&S Transport was struck by a piece of equipment and suffered a head injury while loading Messier’s truck onto a flatbed wrecker. The operator received immediate care from troopers on the scene, and was subsequently transported by ambulance for treatment at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin. The extent of his injuries is currently unknown.

Charley Messier

The Charley Project website provides more information on Messier, based on media reports from 2006 and afterwards:

Messier was last seen at a party in Waitsfield, Vermont at 2:00 a.m. on October 15, 2006. He left the gathering driving his red 1997 Ford F-150 dual cab pickup truck and has never been heard from again.

The vehicle has the Vermont license plate number BGG890, a dual exhaust, a moon visor, a black tonneau cover, and the NASCAR numbers 27, 07 and 08 displayed in the rear window. A photograph of it is posted with this case summary. Since his disappearance, Messier’s bank accounts, credit cards and cellular phone have been inactive.

Messier was reported missing on October 18, three days after he was last seen, after he missed two days of work at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters without calling in. His family described him as a hard worker and a “homeboy” who rarely traveled anywhere. The only out-of-state trip he had ever taken was in the fifth grade, when his father’s work briefly took the family to Florida.

In October 2022, the diving group Adventures with Purpose found Messier’s pickup in the Wisnooski River in Duxbury, Vermont.

Messier was depressed at the time of his disappearance due to his recent divorce and had been hospitalized for this in August 2006.

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1 reply »

  1. I follow the doings of the Adventures With Purpose team. They do amazing work all over the country. Watch them on you tube.

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