RURAL WALSH COUNTY, N.D. – Sydney Vorachek lost her hero Monday.
After searchers found a body believed to be that of her missing father, Travis Wade Vorachek, in a rural Walsh County slough, family members were notified to come to the area.
On the drive to the search area, Sydney’s worst fear was realized.
“The hardest part was waiting to get to the land this morning when I received tons of messages and phone calls to hurry to the land,” she told the Herald on Monday. “I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stop shaking and couldn’t catch my breath. They wouldn’t tell me what happened. I just had to hurry, and that’s when I knew my dad is dead. Gone.”
The family rushed to the scene, with some family members sobbing as they drove into the campsite where they were given the news.
After three days of searching, a body was found about a quarter of a mile from where Travis Vorachek’s all-terrain vehicle was earlier located. Walsh County Sheriff Ron Jurgens said a positive identification has not been made yet, but the clothing matched what Vorachek was wearing.
The discovery capped off three days of searching for the father of three, who his daughter said was always trying to make people laugh, smile and lighten the mood.
“He called himself ‘Super Trav’ because he truly was super,” Sydney Vorachek, 20, said. “He was a hero to not only his daughter, but to anyone who ever met him.”
Vorachek, 45, was reported missing Saturday morning after he did not meet with his father for deer hunting.
He was last heard from Friday night when he called his wife, Julie Kadlec Vorachek, on his way to the hunting expedition.
While searching Saturday around the junction of 112th Avenue Northeast and County Road 19, about 10 miles northwest of Whitman, N.D., searchers found Vorachek’s pickup and an overturned ATV. The body was found a quarter-mile northeast of the ATV lying in cattails and water but not submerged, Jurgens said.
The body has been sent to UND’s Forensic Pathology Center for an autopsy for a positive identification and to determine the cause of death.
Authorities said they believe he arrived in the area where the body was found at about 9:30 p.m.
Vorachek told his family he was getting there Friday night so he could prepare for a hunting trip beginning Saturday morning with his father, who owned the land the two were set to hunt on, Jurgens said.
After arriving, Jurgens said it’s believed Vorachek unloaded his ATV for the next morning, and at some point that night, crashed the four-wheeler.
The area where the body was found is remote, with farmhouses miles apart. The land is swampy and covered by low-lying sloughs that are thick with cattails and other vegetation. About half of that area, Jurgens said, is covered in water.
After the crash, it would be easy for someone to be lost or disoriented, Jurgens said.
“As you know, we’re out in the middle of nowhere,” he added. “There’s no streetlights, and you can go miles before you find a farmyard with a streetlight, so it gets very dark out here and it’s very dangerous to be out here at night.”
The body was found wearing dark clothing, which matched that of what Vorachek was wearing that night. Because he was not wearing hunting gear at the time, Jurgens said the body was difficult to find and camouflaged by the vegetation.
Monday was the third day of searching the area for Vorachek. Hundreds of volunteers, most of which were dressed in bright orange, helped authorities throughout the search.
After beginning to expand their search about 15 miles from the junction of County Road 19 and 112th Avenue Northeast, the body was found in an area that had previously been searched.
“If you see somebody in blaze orange walking across the field, they’re easily identified,” Jurgens said. “Somebody with darker clothing is very hard to find. Throw in being in a slough with cattails and that made it much more difficult.”
The father of three, worked with FreightEx Freight Services in Grand Forks as an independent broker, his daughter said. She said Vorachek was incredible at his job and was the most hardworking man she’s ever met.
According to his Facebook profile, he was an avid hunter, with many pictures showing him with animals and birds he had hunted.
Sydney Vorachek also said her father was an excellent cook who could whip anything up that he found in the kitchen.
But she would give anything to have one more meal with her hero, adding the family had planned to get together Sunday for one before her father went missing.
“I didn’t even think to see him before he left for hunting or even say ‘Love you, Dad,”” she said.