Man presumed drowned on the Yellowstone

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Photo by Crystal Arnold

Search and Rescue crews on the Yellowstone River.

A 20-year-old Columbus man is presumed drowned after falling into the Yellowstone River early Saturday morning.

Brandon Fitch was seen falling into the river from a bridge near Reed Point at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday, June 16. A 911 call brought multiple agencies immediately to the area, where water and bank searches were conducted.

Those efforts continued for two days until poor weather conditions and the muddy, high, fast-moving river made for difficult and dangerous search operations. Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem said Wednesday afternoon that the search has not been suspended, but it will depend on Search and Rescue’s “ability to coordinate personnel and resources.”

How Fitch ended up in the river is still under investigation as well, said Kem.

According to Stillwater County Dispatch reports, a 911 caller reported that Fitch was staying at the caller’s home in Reed Point and that a friend saw Fitch fall off a bridge. The reporting caller began walking the river banks in search of Fitch until emergency crews arrived on scene.

Deputies, Stillwater County Search and Rescue, Sweet Grass County Search and Rescue and Columbus Fire Rescue all responded.

Fitch’s family was notified before 8 a.m. Saturday of the search as well, according to dispatch records.

“The area has been searched by jet boat, jet skis, drone, and members of emergency services on the banks of the river,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Smith earlier this week.

Also assisting in the search is Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks boats.

Smith asks anyone that comes upon anything in the area that could be tied to this incident to please contact dispatch at 322-5326.