River search for 20-year-old man continues

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, August 2, 2018

SAR Photo by Crystal Arnold
The Stillwater Sheriff’s Office SAR team searched an area of interest two weeks ago.

The search for missing and presumed drowned Brandon Fitch continues on a scaled-back effort.

Fitch, 20, went into the Yellowstone River off the bridge at Reed Point in the early morning hours of June 16. An initial immediate response by law enforcement and Search and Rescue (SAR) failed to find Fitch, and SAR has continued what is now considered a recovery mission.

Two weeks ago, divers investigated a specific — and undisclosed — location on the river where a total of seven K9 dogs have “hit.” The positive indications have occurred on three separate occasions.

Although the water level has dropped substantially and cleared up, Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy said the diver found that there was still significant debris in the location that was not visible from the surface.

Tentative plans were made to return to the location in a few weeks to check the area again.

Brophy noted that SAR was also requested to assist Park County in the search for a missing 15-year-old boy who went into the river when his boat capsized on Friday, July 27. The boy is the son of a Gallatin County Sheriff’s captain, whose wife died in the capsize. The captain, his daughter and one other person survived. Search and Rescue teams throughout the state are assisting with that search, which also has been scaled back by Park County authorities.

“We will continue to assist them on a limited basis. I have been in contact with the person in charge of the water search to exchange information about our search. As their search gets closer to our jurisdiction, we will continue to work together on these two searches,” said Brophy Wednesday morning.

“ My office is continuing to monitor water levels. Once the divers have determined that it is safe for them to enter the water, we will check other areas of interest. Those areas will be kept confidential at this point.”
-Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy