Imagine that you finally finished another year of college. You are free from school for another summer and are one step closer to entering the real world forever. To celebrate, you meet up with fellow students, and eventually begin your drive home. Except you never return home.
This is what happened to 19-year old Minnesotan Brandon Swanson on May 14, 2008. On his way home from the celebration, he crashed his car into a ditch and immediately called his parents, telling them that he believed he was near the town Lynd and to pick him up.
Annette and Brian Swanson set out into the night to find their son, still speaking to him on the phone in order to better pinpoint his location. Once they arrived at where Brandon had described, they flashed their headlights in means of signaling him, but Brandon did not see the lights and in response flashed his own after getting back into his car, which his parents also did not see.
It became clear that the two parties were not in the same location, and so Brandon said he would walk towards Lynd, which he claimed he could see because of the lights in the distance. Soon after, Brian Swanson dropped off his wife at home due to her being under the weather and then continued on his own, still talking with Brandon.
Breaking their casual conversation, Brandon suddenly yelled “Oh shit” and hung up. Despite his dad’s numerous attempts to reach him, Brandon never answered his calls. That was the last anyone had ever heard from him.
Very soon thereafter, the police were notified and a delayed search for Brandon Swanson had begun with helicopters, volunteers, and dogs. Brandon’s car was eventually found 25 miles from where he thought he was, and oddly where no lights of any kind would have been visible.
The bloodhounds were able to trace his scent to the Yellow Medicine River, prompting many to believe that he stumbled into it and drowned. However I disagree for numerous reasons. The dogs also picked up his scent on the other side of the river along a gravel path that led to an abandoned farm, though they did quickly lose it. Additionally, his body, clothes, or possessions were not found in the river. Also, Brandon manually had to hang up the call and Brandon’s phone could still receive calls, meaning that it was in working condition and most likely not submerged underwater.
Since he seemed to not have drowned, then what happened? Darrin E. Delzer, a volunteer firefighter who became invested in the case, has a very conceivable theory. After analyzing the SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) report, he uncovered details that the media never publicized. First off, Brandon was legally blind in one of his eyes and wore glasses. However, his glasses were left in his car. Now, if you were blind in one eye and were hiking through unknown territory in the dead of night, wouldn’t you take your glasses with you? Unless he was drunk from the party, it doesn’t make logical sense. What is even stranger is that both his friends who last saw him at the party and his parents said that he seemed normal and not intoxicated.
Another piece of information included in the SAR report was that just before the call ended, Brandon reported to his father that he was crossing fields and fences and exclaimed “Not another fence” before saying the “Oh shit.” In this short amount of time, his Dad heard him climb the fence and then what sounded like him slipping on rocks.
Delzer seems to believe that “he was crossing grassy fields, came to another unexpected fence [that was] around an old[, abandoned] cistern, (which tend to be common on large properties of the sort) hopped it, slipped on the rocks around its edges, and dropped his phone on the outside” as he fell in. As for not finding his body, Delzer claims that “the shaft could have opened deeper, [with] more rocks covering him.” This makes the most sense considering the details of the call and the plausibility that as Brandon tripped, he could have ended the call accidentally.
I do not believe that foul play was involved since Brandon never reported to have come into contact with anyone over the phone, and if he were offered a ride by a stranger or abducted, why would he swear and then hang up?
Losing someone is always a horrible thing, but not knowing what happened to them is even worse. Maybe one day searchers will finally have luck and discover a partially collapsed well. But until then, the disappearance of Brandon Swanson remains unsolved.