Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Performs Nighttime Rescue

Views
Nine of the 12-person party aboard the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit boat. Sheriff Mike Lowell said the craft’s sophisticated navigation systems made the rescue possible. SWCSO Photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY– Deputies of the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit rescued a party of Boy Scouts stranded on Flaming Gorge late Thursday night.

Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell said the party of nine scouts and three adults from Saratoga Springs, Utah, were on a rafting trip that began Thursday morning when they put their rafts into the Green River in the Jamestown area.

Their plan was to raft down the Green, onto Flaming Gorge, then south to Big Firehole, there to join other members of their party already camped there.

Advertisement - Story continues below...

By about 9 pm, the Scouts had traveled about 15 miles downriver from Jamestown, but by then were on Flaming Gorge and still nine miles – and in heavy darkness – from their objective at Big Firehole.

Unable to paddle farther, they made it to the Gorge’s eastern shore and used hand radios to summon aid.

Several of the Boy Scouts rescued by sheriff’s deputies Thursday night aboard the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit boat. SWCSO Photo

The party camped at Big Firehole received the radio message, drove a distance east to a point where cell phone coverage was available, and contacted the Combined Communications Center in Green River.

Two Sheriff’s Office corporals, Steve Powell and Todd Poppie, responded to the call for help in the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit patrol boat, berthed at Buckboard Marina, south of Firehole.

Lowell said the deputies estimated the stranded party’s position and, using the boat’s sophisticated radar, sonar, and GPS systems in the near-total darkness, navigated north and located the Scouts at about midnight near Slippery Jim Bottom. None in the party were any the worse for their experience, and were transported to Big Firehole in the Marine Unit boat.

Lowell credited the successful rescue to the skill and knowledge of Powell and Poppie. Powell, he said, has extensive law enforcement boat training and experience, and Poppie had a long naval career before taking up his current service in law enforcement.

The scene on Flaming Gorge Wednesday night, lit only by a full moon. SWCSO Photo