Somber Search

Authorities may be closing in on location of drowned man
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Photo by Crystal Arnold
            A search dog at work late last week on the Yellowstone River.

Search and Rescue crews believe they have narrowed the location of a 20-year-old Columbus man’s body down to a specific portion of the Yellowstone River.

Brandon Fitch fell into the river from the bridge near the Indian Fort Campground sometime prior to 5 a.m. on June 16. A 911 call immediately brought a myriad of emergency responders to the scene, whose efforts were impeded for days by dangerous river conditions and poor weather.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the area has been searched and monitored almost every day by boat, by foot and by plane by Stillwater County Search and Rescue (SAR), Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and K-9 teams from Western Montana Search Dogs and Absaroka Search Dogs.

Stillwater County Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Smith said Wednesday a K9 team was scheduled to hit the river again Thursday.

How Fitch ended up in the river remains under investigation.

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 riverbanks 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.