GREEN RIVER – The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office helped rescue a lost kayaker on Sunday.
Sheriff deputies responded to the Green River and the upper part of Flaming Gorge Reservoir in an attempt to locate an overdue kayaker around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.
A traveling companion of the experienced kayaker, an unidentified 57-year-old man from Henderson, Nevada, said his friend launched from Expedition Island in Green River by himself around 8 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release. The two planned to meet at Firehole Campground at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. After waiting at the rendezvous point until around 6:30 p.m., the reporting party grew concerned for his friend’s safety, returned to town and phoned the police.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with officers from Green River Police Department and emergency crews from Green River Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management, spread out along the river and scoured the areas of Expedition Island, Scott’s Bottom, Stratton Meyer, Firehole Campground and Buckboard Marina. A utility terrain vehicle and rescue boat were deployed to aid in the search. An AirMed helicopter launched in an effort to canvass the river from above but was unable to fly low enough to the ground through the river canyon given the low-light conditions.
After working through the night and into the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 8, rescue crews temporarily suspended the search around 2 a.m. Operations resumed at dawn on Sunday.
While the helicopter was en route to the river, around 7:55 a.m., Deputy Scott Morris spotted the missing man in a green inflatable kayak on the water in the area of Little Firehole and quickly helped him to shore. While cold, tired and disoriented, the rescued man was otherwise uninjured, according to the release. He told Deputy Morris that he became exhausted after fighting poor weather conditions and high winds through the canyon the previous day. He docked his kayak and spent the night on shore before attempting to paddle back upstream to return to his vehicle.
In a social media post yesterday afternoon, the man wrote, “Well … after an epic cold night, I ended up about 7 miles short of Firehole Canyon. Thanks to [my friend] for waiting so long for me to show up last night and for calling [emergency responders]. Thanks also to Scott Morris of Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office for plucking a slightly hypothermic kayaker off the river/reservoir and delivering me to my vehicle in Green River.”
The Sheriff’s Office credited everyone involved for a positive outcome in the search. The Sheriff’s Office noted it does not identify those involved in a search-and-rescue mission, when possible, out of respect for their personal privacy and that of their friends and family, and no further details will be released.