Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office Scales Back Search For Brothers In Strawberry

Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office has been searching for two men who went missing Thursday afternoon while fishing. The department is now scaling back those search efforts.

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez and his office have been aiding Wasatch County Sheriff’s Department in their search for brothers Jim and Mark Gardiner who went missing last week while fishing at Strawberry Reservoir.

Summit County has been loaning an underwater remote operated vehicle that has the ability to help search for the men. Martinez says the search has been difficult on crews.

“It’s very stressful,” Martinez said. “It’s long days and they do most of their searching at night. Because, believe it or not, the clarity is even greater at night. With the light on the ROV they can see underwater even better than they can with the glare of the sun. So, most of their searching has been late at night.”

The men went missing around 2:30 pm on Thursday when a DWR employee at Strawberry Reservoir noticed an unoccupied boat running in the lake coming to stop on the shore in the northeast portion of Strawberry.

Since that time Wasatch County Sheriff’s office has been busy searching for the two Utah County brothers aged 70 and 61.

The boat found on shore had the motor running with a fish on the line. Family members say that a net is missing from the boat that normally would be there.

One theory being considered is that the men could have been attempting to net the fish and fell into the reservoir.

With the engine still running when it washed up on shore Martinez says that means the search area is very large.

“That gives us an indication that maybe the boat could have gone from one side of the reservoir to the other side which opens up a whole wide area to search,” Martinez continued. “Where if we knew that they were in a cove and they stayed in the cove and the families said they were in this cove now that makes our search a little narrower. Right now, our search is pretty broad. When we have a big search area like that it makes it very difficult. It’s long hours, it’s a lot of stress on the searchers.”

Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby announced on Monday that the search was scaling back. Sheriff Martinez shared his thoughts on that difficult decision.

“At some point you just have got the cost benefit analysis,” Martinez explained. “Looking at we have done everything to this point that we can and so there has to be a decision at some point. That is a tough decision to have and a tough conversation as the sheriff. To talk with the family members and say we’re scaling back. That were not completely shutting down, but we’re definitely scaling back. Then there comes the point where we say we’ve exhausted, and we’re done with the search. Those are tough tough conversation to have.”

Read the original story at KPCW.org