Two men plucked from Yellowstone in rare nighttime river rescue
Two men who got their jet boat stuck on a sandbar in the Yellowstone River as darkness fell Sunday were saved in a risky nighttime rescue by Stillwater County emergency crews.
At 4:38 p.m., the Montana Highway Patrol reported it had received a call regarding two men who were "stuck" on the south side of the Yellowstone River, near mile marker 12 off Highway 10, according to Stillwater County Sheriff’s Dispatch records and Undersheriff Chip Kem.
Search and Rescue (SAR) was paged out at that point, as well as deputies, the Park City Fire Department and Columbus Fire Rescue.
The boat was occupied by two men in their mid-30s who were stuck between the rest area hill and Young’s Point, said Kem. The boat was beached on a sandbar when the pair apparently took a wrong turn in the river, said SAR Logistics/Communication Officer Crystal Arnold.
By 4:51 p.m., a deputy was on scene and had a spotlight on the men and the boat. The men also turned on their boat’s light-bar so crews could see them, according to dispatch records.
At 5:37 p.m., SAR was able to deploy its raft from T & C Cattle Feeders, help dislodge the boat from the sandbar and get all parties off the water at Young’s Point, said Kem.
Arnold said the owner of the boat wanted to continue to Laurel, but decided to anchor his boat and retrieve it in the morning on the advice of a Park City fire fighter.
By 7:30 p.m., SAR was off the river and all parties were safe.
Arnold said nighttime river rescues are rarely done due to the extreme danger involved. In Sunday’s incident, the decision was made to go forward due to deteriorating weather conditions (as it was raining and snowing) and the fact that SAR knew where the parties were.
“We just had to figure out how to get them off the river,” said Arnold.
Arnold noted the other responding agencies “did a great job lighting the river for SAR as they maneuvered the jet boat and the victims to shore.”
Neither Kem nor Arnold knew where the men were from.