Bringing Brandon Home

Search for Columbus man enters Day 27
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, July 12, 2018
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Wednesday marked the 26th day since Brandon Fitch’s family has been without him.

The 20-year-old Columbus resident is presumed drowned in the Yellowstone River after having fallen from the bridge near Indian Fort Campground in Reed Point in the early morning hours went into the Yellowstone River in Reed Point on June 16.

A 911 call launched an immediate search of the area in hopes of finding Fitch alive. The past four weeks have seen multiple bank, boat and air searches conducted on what has been described as difficult conditions with the river running high and muddy. Two separate dog teams have located an area where authorities believe Fitch is in the river, but conditions have been too dangerous to attempt a dive recovery, according to Stillwater County Search and Rescue (SAR).

In the past handful of days, the water level has begun to drop and visibility is improving. As of Wednesday, there had been no new developments.

Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem said this week the investigation into what exactly took place on the bridge remains active and that all possibilities are being considered, including accident, suicide and foul play.

Kem also said a request for search warrant for Fitch’s phone was submitted to the Stillwater County Attorney’s Office on July 2, but as of this past Tuesday, he had not heard back from that office. An email to Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde on Tuesday was not answered by press time.

Stillwater County deputies and SAR, Sweet Grass County Search and Rescue, Columbus Fire Rescue, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and K-9 teams from Western Montana Search Dogs and Absaroka Search Dogs and private pilots have all been involved in the search efforts. Because SAR and K-9 teams are volunteers, it has not been possible to have search teams on the river 24 hours a day, everyday.