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July 24, 2012 8:35 am

Search for missing boy continuing

Written by Tribune Staff

The search for the body of a 9-year-old Utah boy presumed to have drowned in the South Fork of the Shoshone River will go on after an unsuccessful effort over the weekend.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said in a Monday statement that his office will monitor conditions closely and resume the search for Tyler Hatch of Eagle Hatch, Utah, as the river level continues to drop. Water levels still are causing very difficult search conditions in the upper canyon area where Hatch was last seen on July 1, Steward said.

A horse threw Hatch into the fast-moving river (running at approximately 1,500 cubic feet per second at the time) while he was on a pack trip with his family. Hatch’s body was seen from a helicopter in the search hours after the accident, but weather conditions made it impossible to reach him before the body moved downstream.

Crews and citizens, including Park County Search and Rescue volunteers, have continued searching since then.

On Friday, two kayakers were flown in by helicopter to search the canyon — about five miles past the end of the South Fork Road — while two deputies searched the lower end of the canyon on foot, Steward said. Several volunteers also hiked into the area with their kayaks on Saturday. Steward said some areas can’t be checked safely right now because of the current water conditions.

“I continue to be amazed at the unselfish efforts of our volunteers with the Park County Search and Rescue as well as the numerous volunteers from the public,” the sheriff said in Monday’s statement. “Throughout this search, we have seen nothing but outstanding support.”

Steward said residents and ranches of the upper South Fork have “gone above and beyond” in aiding the search effort.

At one point, there were 65 searchers, Steward said, and his office continually receives calls from Park County residents wanting to help.

“Experiencing such outstanding local support to search for a young boy who is not even from here is a very humbling experience for me as sheriff,” Steward said.

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