GREAT FALLS — The cold weather is delaying what the Toole County Sheriff’s Office is calling the recovery of two missing fishermen.
The two men camped on the north side of the Marias River were reported missing Monday when they didn’t return after leaving to visit another camp.
Tracks from their UTV led to open water and items from their UTV were found floating in the water.
Toole County Undersheriff Ryan Larson said the air temperature needs to get above zero before recovery efforts can safely begin. He explained, "If somebody gets exposed to water, the air temperature being above zero makes the chance of somebody getting hurt less likely. Trying to get a conference call between us, Flathead County with their Two Bear Air Rescue that's been helping us, and Cascade County and develop a plan.”
The names of the two men have not yet been released.
The Sheriff’s Office reminds people to use extreme caution on the ice because there are parts of the river where the ice is unstable.
(FEBRUARY 9) The Toole County Sheriff's Office is searching for two men from Missoula County who have been reported missing.
The Sheriff's Office said in a news release that at about 8 p.m. on Monday they received a report of two over-due fishermen from Missoula County who were camping on the north side of the Marias River in Toole County.
Investigators learned that the men had left camp earlier in the day to visit people staying at a second camp located on the south side of the river west of South Bootlegger. When they did not return, a third man in their party went to find them, following their tracks to an area of open water.
After an extensive search of the area, the only tracks located leaving the campsite were tracks leading onto the ice and into an area of open water. Floating in the open water were items identified by the initial reporting party as being on the side-by-side when it left camp. Air and ground search efforts turned up no further clues that anyone left the water.
A recovery effort was attempted with the assistance of the Flathead County Sheriff's Office, and Two Bear Air Rescue using their underwater camera. This effort was unsuccessful because of harsh weather conditions.
The Sheriff's Office is continuing to work to locate and recover the missing men. The names of the men has not been released at this point.