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August 07, 2012 10:03 am

Searchers recover body of lost boy

Written by CJ Baker

Boy fell into South Fork of Shoshone River on July 2

A month-long search for a 9-year-old Utah boy who fell into the South Fork of the Shoshone River has ended with the successful recovery of his body.

The body of Tyler Hatch of Eagle Mountain, Utah, was found by volunteer kayakers searching the river Sunday afternoon, said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward.

Steward said he’d spoken with Tyler father, Kevin Hatch, later that day.

“He’s obviously happy to have some closure,” Steward said. “The family’s ready to put this chapter behind them as well.”

Tyler Hatch had been on a July 2 horse packing trip with his family and was crossing the South Fork near Fall Creek when he fell from his horse and was swept away in the fast-moving water.

Steward said Kevin Hatch was “very, very appreciative” of the efforts of the volunteers who have searched for his son, ranging from Park County Search and Rescue personnel to others from the community and the South Fork area. Steward said the crews went “above and beyond” to bring a successful end to the search.

“They’ve worked hard at it and certainly it’s not just closure for the family, but closure for our volunteers as well,” he said.

Hatch’s body had been spotted from the air a couple hours after he was lost in the river, but by the time kayakers were able to reach the site, the body had been swept downstream.

Searchers on foot, in helicopters and in kayaks had spent parts of the last month combing the area.

Kayakers were originally going to be flown in via helicopter this past weekend to continue the effort, but a chopper crash earlier in the week scuttled those plans, Steward said; a plan to use mules to pack in the equipment didn’t pan out either.

So, early Sunday morning, Search and Rescue member Ed Conning and volunteer Andy Quick carried their kayaks five miles in themselves to resume the search.

“These guys were just willing to do it on their own,” Steward said.

Another Search and Rescue member and his wife had been planning to go horseback riding that day, but changed their plans to haul in some additional gear for the kayakers.

Around 3:30 p.m., the kayakers found Hatch’s body about three-fourths of a mile downstream from where it was seen from the helicopter on July 2.

The area had been searched several times over the past month, but the high water had prevented the searchers from finding the body, Steward said. At the time Hatch fell into the South Fork, the river was flowing at approximately 1,600 cubic feet per second. By Sunday, that rate had dropped to around 260 cubic feet per second.

The kayakers brought Hatch’s body approximately two miles downstream to Park County Coroner Tim Power.

Tyler’s grandfather, Don Hatch of Byron, had described Tyler as a fun-loving kid who tried to please others and loved life, animals, the outdoors and the mountains.

“We know he’s in a better place,” Don Hatch told the Tribune last month. “We’ll just miss him.”

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