Missouri Couple Expresses Gratitude for Sheriff’s Office Following Rescue at the Gorge

Missouri Couple Expresses Gratitude for Sheriff’s Office Following Rescue at the Gorge

SWEETWATER COUNTY — A Missouri couple who were stranded at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in September have sent a letter of gratitude to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office deputy who helped get them to safety along with a $500 donation to the sheriff’s office search and rescue (SAR) team.

Gene and Gayle were vacationing in Wyoming and Idaho to explore the Oregon Trail when they decided to camp out at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir over Labor Day. They said they stayed at the South Buckboard Crossing campground last year and wanted to stay on the east side this year. They arrived at the gorge Sept. 1, and the day quickly took a turn when their vehicle and camper got stuck in the sand.

“We were hoping for a beach campsite but got a little too adventurous and got stuck in the sand,” they said. “It seems that the tracks we were following were made before the lake level rose recently creating a crust over unstable sand beneath. We were sucked in with no way out without help.”

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Without cell service, Gene and Gayle resorted to calling 911. While they already planned on staying at the Gorge with their camper, they weren’t all that concerned when no one came to their rescue over the night. They did see a pickup around dusk, they said, but the vehicle didn’t stop. At around 11 a.m. the next morning they still had not seen anyone so they called 911 again. At around 2:30 p.m., a University of Utah AirMed helicopter found the couple.

“We heard a helicopter overhead. It was circling us. Then we saw Deputy Watkins following our tracks in the sand,” they said.

Watkins told the couple that it was a deputy in the pickup the night before but they couldn’t see them so they used the helicopter to pinpoint their location.

“Deputy Watkins took us the hour and (a) half to a hotel in Rock Springs,” the couple said.

The next day, Gabe of Salvation Towing and his friend Ira took the couple back to the gorge and spent five hours winching them out of the sand.

“This experience is definitely a memorable part of our vacation,” they said. “We love exploring Wyoming, so we will be back.”

The couple expressed their gratitude to the 911 dispatch in both Utah and Sweetwater County, and everyone involved in the search.

“Especially to Deputy Watkins for volunteering his off-duty hours to SAR,” the couple said.