The search volunteers began showing up before sunrise.
They gathered at a parking lot outside Sam Boyd Stadium, ready to scour the muddy banks and tangled brush of the nearby wash in hopes of finding the missing teen who was swept away by floodwaters two days earlier.
"Good or bad, we all had a feeling that today is the day," said 21-year-old Kevin Britton, a close friend of William Mootz's family.
Within hours, any hopes that the 17-year-old might still be alive vanished with the discovery of his body in the wetlands at the end of the wash.
William Mootz's body was found about 10:30 a.m. entangled in a group of trees and bushes, covered in a light layer of mud and silt, Henderson police said.
A search team of close family friends, including Britton's mother, found him. Better them than a stranger, he said.
"It had to be one of us," Britton said. "Sadly, but not sadly, it was."
The discovery ended two days of uncertainty for the Mootz family.
Mootz disappeared Wednesday morning after falling into the fast-moving rapids of the Pittman Wash behind the Target store at Stephanie Street and Sunset Road in Henderson.
The Green Valley High School senior was with two friends, and they apparently were throwing things into the wash after jumping a fence, his father, Charlie Mootz, said.
Fueled by the day's torrential rains, the swift current moving 20 times faster than normal carried Mootz about two miles down the wash. A witness estimated the waters carried him at 40 mph.
The storm came amid the third-wettest 24-hour period on record, with 1.98 inches of rain falling at McCarran International Airport between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities, including Henderson and Las Vegas police and Clark County firefighters, joined 100 volunteers to search the area before suspending the search Wednesday night.
They picked up the search again Thursday morning but called it off about 6 p.m. because muddy and soggy conditions made much of the search area inaccessible.
Authorities initially planned to resume the search Monday once the area had dried out, but that changed after two rescue dog teams from Nevada Task Force 1, a statewide search and rescue team, became available.
They resumed the search Friday with the dog teams, a Las Vegas police helicopter and Henderson officers on ATVs and on foot.
As late as Thursday evening, Charlie Mootz held hope that his son could still be alive, thanks to his Boy Scout training and a will to live that he had shown in overcoming a potentially fatal medical condition as a boy.
But that hope succumbed to reality.
In a brief statement to the media, Charlie Mootz thanked the hundreds of volunteers who had joined the search.
Britton said the family was thankful to have a little sense of closure after two days of uncertainty.
"At least now we have something," he said.
A candlelight vigil in Mootz's memory was scheduled for 8 p.m. today at Green Valley High School.
Samantha Allen, a friend of Mootz's sister, Trisha, had known him since he was a boy.
She left the search base Friday after nearly two straight days of searching, including the night before when she trudged through the mud and brush with a flashlight clenched in her teeth.
Carrying a backpack and with a forlorn face, she talked about the lesson to be learned from Mootz's untimely death.
"Your parents tell you not to do stuff for a reason," she said. "This is the reason."
Review-Journal reporters Mike Blasky and Henry Brean contributed to this report. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at email@example.com or 702-383-0281.