Green River Star -

Missing kayaker rescued

 

September 12, 2019



An overdue kayaker was rescued after not showing up to a meeting spot with his traveling companion Saturday.

According to a release form the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, emergency responders were notified after the kayaker, later identified as Wayne Belcher, 57, Herderson, Nev., did not make his scheduled rendezvous with friend Dan Bjugstad Saturday evening. Belcher launched form Expedition Island at 8 a.m., Saturday morning and expected to meet Bjugstad at Firehole Campground at 2:30 p.m. After waiting for more than a few hours after that scheduled meeting, Bjugstad grew concerned and returned to Rock Springs for help at about 6:30 p.m.

Deputies from the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, as well as members of the Green River Police Department, Green River Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management scoured the river from Expedition Island to Buckboard Marina and Firehole Campground, using both all-terrain vehicles and rescue boats. An AirMed helicopter was also utilized to search the river from above, but was unable to fly low enough through the river canyon in low-light conditions.

The search was suspended at about 2 a.m., Sunday, with operations resuming at dawn. At about 7:55 a.m., Deputy Sheriff Scott Morris located Belcher in a green inflatable kayak at Little Firehole and helped him to the shore. While Belcher was cold, tired and disoriented, he was uninjured from his ordeal.

Belcher told Morris he became exhausted after dealing with poor weather conditions and high winds through the canyon. He docked the kayak and spent the night on the shore.

 

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