April 22, 2020
RE: Stranded boaters rescued at Ririe Reservoir
Website Reference: www.boatidaho.gov
At approximately 1:10am this morning, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the Ririe Reservoir after received a report of overdue boaters. A family member of the overdue boaters had not heard from them after they did not return from a fishing outing yesterday afternoon and met with Deputies at the Blacktail Boat Ramp where their vehicle was parked. The reporting party advised there were 4 people on the boat, a man and his wife and their two children, and was unable to reach them by phone as there is no cell service on the reservoir.
Just after 2am, Deputies located the Man and his son still with their boat on the shore line between Blacktail and Ririe Dam. The man advised Deputies his boat had a mechanical issue around 7pm last stranding them at the shore. His wife and daughter decided to walk out from that area to get help but he had not heard from them.
Deputies were able to tow the boat back to the Blacktail Boat Ramp and began organizing more Deputies and Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Volunteers to search the area. Air Idaho Rescue also responded to the area using their spotlight across the mountainside and canyons to search for the two missing females. Deputies and Search and Rescue teams on ATV’s, Motorcycles and hiking teams began searching the area while the boat teams continued to search the shore line in the dark. The Sheriff’s Office also deployed drones to the area to aide in the search.
At approximately 6am, a motorcycle team could hear screaming and were able to guide hiking teams to a canyon where they found the woman and daughter safe. The woman told Deputies they became disoriented in the dark trying to hike out and found a spot to keep warm and stay put until help arrived. Search teams were able to get the two back to a Sheriff’s Office boat and transport them back to the Blacktail Boat Ramp.
Aside from being cold and dehydrated, all of the individuals were uninjured and safe after being located. This incident is a good example of best practices where boaters let other family members know where they were going and when they expected to return, along with good decision making to stay in one place rather than attempting to traverse difficult areas in the dark. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office is pleased that this operation was a success where rescue was made relatively quick considering the conditions and good team work from Deputies, Search and Rescue Volunteers, and Air Idaho Rescue contributed to safety and efficiency.
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office always recommends being prepared for unexpected breakdowns, emergencies, and safety. This particular incident shows that even the best prepared and good working equipment can fail in an area that’s difficult for communications in the backcountry. Taking time to check and recheck safety equipment, gear, and supplies can mean the difference between a successful rescue when needed and accident causing injury or death. For more information on boat safety, equipment requirements and boat registration go to www.boatidaho.gov .