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Finding Lucius

Inside the search for a missing friend


Jake Gillis knew it. There was something about that stretch of road, that patch of ground. Even though it had been scoured by dozens of volunteers, he kept going back to it.

"One more time," he said.

Climbing into the cockpit of a helicopter with Dave Everson, a pilot from Northern California, Gillis hoped this would be it--he wanted to find 21-year-old Lucius Robbi.

Robbi, a raft guide for Cascade Raft and Kayak, left Horseshoe Bend on Tuesday, Aug. 19. He was on his way to school at the University of Montana in Missoula, but he never made it.

On the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 28, the helicopter took off with Everson, Gillis and another friend from California known as "Monkey."

The three traced Robbi's possible route to Montana again. They circled around Deadwood Reservoir, checked out the areas north of Crouch and, in one final effort, looked closely along Highway 21 from Lowman to Stanley.

That's when they spotted Robbi's vehicle.

"Monkey kept yelling, 'I found him, I found him, I fucking found him,' and I said, 'Wait, what? Bank right, I want to see this,''' Gillis said.

Sure enough, Robbi's forest-green Subaru Outback lay at the bottom of a 60-foot embankment off Highway 21, only five miles from Stanley. The extent of the impact made it clear his death was instant.

The wreck went almost undetected. Despite more than 20 of Robbi's friends, and the combined efforts of the Boise and Custer counties sheriff's offices, searching the area for almost a full week, the wreckage was invisible from the roadside.

"I even had a thought when we were about six miles from that location," Gillis said. "I thought, 'This area had been pretty well covered. Maybe we can just turn around.' But I kept my mouth shut and decided to go all the way to Stanley. There he was."