On Saturday, some 65 volunteers scoured the river around Canyon Falls on the South Fork where a horse threw Tyler Hatch into the water, said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward, while some 35 people searched on Sunday. Searchers located Hatch’s body about four hours after the July 2 midday incident, but rough weather in the steep canyon prevented kayakers from reaching the area until after the body had been swept downstream, Steward said.
Tyler, of Eagle Mountain, Utah, had been on the first day of a weeklong South Fork camping trip with his family, including his mother, father and four sisters. He was crossing the Shoshone on horseback near Fall Creek when he was thrown off. His father, Kevin Hatch, jumped into the river in an attempt to save him, but could not reach him because of the high, swift water, Steward said.
Tyler’s grandfather, Don Hatch of Lovell, said his grandson was a fun-loving kid who always was happy, who tried to please others and will be greatly missed.
Tyler loved life, along with animals, the outdoors and the mountains, Don Hatch said.
Tyler visited his grandparents in Lovell about every summer. Among his favorite activities on the Lovell farm was riding on his grandpa’s four-wheeler during irrigating; he also liked hunting for lizards, spiders and insects.
“Those things really interested him,” Hatch said.
Don Hatch started the tradition of family horse pack trips when Tyler’s father was a young boy, and Kevin Hatch wanted his own family to have that experience this summer. Tyler apparently loved it.
“He told his dad that day (of the accident) as he was riding in, he said, ‘Dad, this is the best day ever,’” Don Hatch recounted.
Dog teams, a helicopter, planes, boats, volunteers on foot and kayakers all have been used in the search for the boy’s body since July 2, Steward said; Park County Search and Rescue volunteers have been joined in the effort by search and rescue personnel from Teton and Sheridan counties, Hatch’s family, personnel from South Fork ranches and members of the general public.
After the concerted effort over the weekend, the sheriff said Tuesday that the plan going forward is to send the kayakers back into the canyon area on Saturday “and do that every week as the river continues to go down.”
“It’s just too hard getting kayaks in there (to search every day) and I mean, we’re beating up mules getting in and out of there,” Steward said. There may be more frequent searches of the less rugged river area further downstream, he said.
Steward said the Hatch family has been understanding of the difficulties faced by the searchers.
“Their big concern is that we not risk anybody’s lives or put anybody in danger to recover him (Tyler),” Steward said.
About a dozen family members were among the searchers last weekend, the sheriff said. Don Hatch said the county search and rescue team has done a super job.
Tyler’s Little League baseball team in Eagle Mountain, Utah, held a moment of silence to honor their teammate before their Saturday game and wore hats with his uniform number, the Deseret News reported.
An assistant coach of the team, Richard Krulisky, told the newspaper that Tyler was a third baseman who would play anywhere and never complained.
“We all loved him,” Krulisky said. “It’s been a tough week for everyone.”
The family has had support through the difficult time.
“We got lots of family and friends and that means a lot, those prayers,” Hatch said. “It’s a tough thing, there’s no question about it, it just is. It tears at your heart. It’s always more than anything you can think of I guess, but life goes on, you know. You can’t give up, you got to keep going. Cherish those memories that we have.”
“We know he’s in a better place,” Hatch added. “We’ll just miss him.”
Hatch, like Steward, hopes that Tyler’s body will be recovered.
“It’s always tough when it’s a child, but you know, just keep plugging away,” Steward said of the search. “Give them (the family) some closure.”