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Body of missing boater recovered

by Lake County Leader
| July 4, 2024 12:00 AM

After six days of searching, divers from Missoula and Flathead County recovered the body of 36-year-old Chad Hansen of Missoula from Flathead Lake last Wednesday.  

According to a press release from the Lake County Sheriff, his body was located just north of the Narrows, an area north of Polson Bay in about 75 feet of water. Search efforts consisted of multiple rescue teams, as well as technologies from around the region, including underwater drones.  

Hansen had been missing since Thursday, June 27, at about 9:41 p.m. when witnesses first reported that he had become separated from his motorboat in the same area where his body was eventually recovered.  

In addition to Lake County Search and Rescue, Flathead, Missoula, and Kootenai County, Idaho, sheriff’s offices all lent trained SAR teams and equipment to the days-long effort. 

In the press release, Sheriff Don Bell expressed “our most sincere gratitude” to Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino, Missoula County Sheriff Jeremiah Peterson, and Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris “for the efforts and expertise” of their respective Search and Rescue teams, as well as Lake County SAR.

Hansen’s body was transported to the Montana State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy. “The Sheriff’s Office expresses our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Hansen,” Bell said.  

Two drownings reported in Glacier Park

Two drownings in two different areas of Glacier National Park occurred on Saturday, according to the National Park Service.

 A 26-year-old male from India was hiking past the gorge on Avalanche Lake Trail when he went into Avalanche Creek around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Friends and witnesses saw him go into the creek, go underwater, and resurface briefly before being swept up by the current and into the gorge.

Glacier National Park dispatch was alerted at 8:37 a.m. Park campground staff were on the scene almost immediately, followed by law enforcement rangers.

 ALERT helicopter conducted aerial searches of the creek and more than 10 rangers scoured the area, but the person has not yet been found and is presumed dead. Rangers believe the body is caught underwater in the gorge. 

Due to poor visibility and hazardous conditions, ongoing search efforts will be scaled down and rangers are monitoring the area. Avalanche Creek is at high water level due to snow melt runoff and the gorge is extremely dangerous, making conditions impossible for rangers to enter the gorge, reports the Park Service.

The young man was living and working in California and on vacation with friends.

 On Saturday evening, a 28-year-old male from Nepal was swimming with friends in Lake McDonald near Sprague Creek Campground. According to friends, he was an inexperienced swimmer. He was about 30 yards out when he started to struggle, went underwater, and never resurfaced.

 Dispatch received a call at about 6:25 p.m, and rangers were on the scene by about 6:50. ALERT helicopter and Three Rivers ambulance responded but stood down when park rangers were able to determine the location of the body 30 yards offshore and 35 to 40 feet underwater. 

The Flathead County Sheriff’s dive team responded and recovered the body at about 8:20 p.m.

 The Nepal native was living and working in Portland, Oregon and on vacation with friends.

 Names have not yet been released. Park officials have contacted the Nepal and India consulates for assistance in contacting next of kin.

The two drownings mark the second and third in just about two weeks at Glacier National Park. Gillian Tones, 26, of Pennsylvania, died of drowning on June 23 after slipping on rocks and getting swept over waterfalls near Virginia Falls.

Drowning is one of the top three causes of death of visitors to the park, along with natural causes and falls, park officials said in 2022.