Search and Rescue mystery: The case of the missing kayakers

STAR VALLEY, WYO – What happens when search and rescuers are looking for a ghost?

Star Valley Search and Rescue (SVSAR) launched a mission late Saturday night searching for stranded boaters on the Snake River. The search continued Sunday morning and to date, SVSAR has no idea what happened to whoever was floating the river in a couple of kayaks.

The mystery began late Saturday evening when a fisherman reported seeing two boaters near Wolf Creek Campground who appeared to have recently abandoned their boats. They were standing along the banks of the river wearing lifejackets but no shoes. To the fisherman, they looked uninjured but were obviously stranded on the side of the river opposite the highway.

Who is missing this kayak and what happened on Saturday on the Snake River? (LCSO)

Star Valley Search and Rescue (SVSAR) responded with a jet boat, rafts, shore support and lights. They conducted their search from 9-11pm before calling it off for the night. During the search, two kayaks were recovered that had no identifying markings on them.

SVSAR resumed its search early Sunday with Forest Service assistance. They informed river users at access ramps to “be on the lookout” for the stranded kayakers.

“To date, nobody has been located that is stranded or missing a boat. No cars have been found abandoned in the ‘day use only’ access points overnight,” according to SVSAR Commander Cory Hepworth. “It is very possible that these gentlemen got picked up by a passing raft or swam across [the Snake River] and went home—not caring to see the river ever again.”

The Forest Service river rangers and river guides continue to watch the banks for clues or people, and are coordinating with SVSAR.

At this point, resolution may only come when and if the stranded boaters themselves come forward to declare they are ok, or if someone who might have picked them up and drove them somewhere passes along this info.

Anyone with any information about this incident or the persons involved, please contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at (307) 885-5231. No one is facing any charges or fines. Authorities just want to confirm everyone is safe and accounted for.


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