FLAMING GORGE — A half dozen Wyoming and Colorado fisherman trapped on an ice floe on Flaming Gorge were rescued February 21 by Wyoming, Utah, and federal emergency responders.
According to Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell, Deputy Sheriffs Derek Morrell and Troy Trehearne were dispatched at about 9:00 AM to the Buckboard area on the west bank of Flaming Gorge about 19 miles south of Green River in response to a report of anglers stranded on the ice.
At the scene, the deputies met with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Didi Erramouspe and observed a party of six fisherman on an ice floe that had broken away from shore and drifted free. Erramouspe had hailed the group and told them to remain away from the floe’s edges until help arrived.
Two rescue teams, one from the Green River Fire Department and another from the Daggett County Sheriff’s Office, arrived at the scene. The anglers, Bryan Cowhan and John Henley, both 36, of Brighton, Colorado, Brian Gross, 35, of Westminster, Colorado, Dean Hunhoff, 48, and Kenton Taylor, 35, both of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and William Torres, 34, of Thornton, Colorado, were rescued with a GRFD boat and transported back to shore.
Haskell identified the GRFD rescue team as Battalion Chief Larry Erdmann and Firefighters Tom Madura, Cliff Walgren, and Jamie Hole. All four are ice-rescue trained and Erdmann and Walgren are ice-rescue instructors.
Responding from the Daggett County Sheriff’s Office were Captain Chris Collett and Deputy Sheriffs Travis Dupaix and Ken Rasmussen. Also at the scene were emergency responders from County Emergency Management and Castle Rock Ambulance Service.
The anglers told county deputies they had arrived on the ice at around 6:30 that morning. Everything had been fine, they said, until they noticed at around 9:00 that their fishing lines appeared to be moving and they realized they were drifting away from shore.
The rescue was carried out without incident and no one was injured. Haskell, however, emphasized the danger to rescuers as well as the rescued in such situations. “A drifting floe can break up at any time and your chances of surviving for long in water that cold don’t amount to much,” he said. “There are any number of things that can go wrong during this kind of operation, and we’re all very glad it turned out the way it did. I have enormous respect for the rescuers – everyone involved has my admiration and my thanks.”