On July 19, 2019, at 4:20pm, Lake County 911 received a call from a distressed boater stating their boat was sinking on Flathead Lake. Contact with the caller was then lost. 911 was able to utilize gps technology to approximate their location to 2.2 miles east of Bear Dance near Mile post 23 MT hwy 35. Lake County Search and Rescue were paged and deployed two boats from Polson. Deputies, SAR members, and a Montana FWP Warden sergeant observed from the shore to try to spot the craft. While this search was underway, a report of two overdue boaters was taken by 911.
Shore personnel eventually spotted the tip of the bow of the boat over 2 miles from the east shore. Search and Rescue were able to locate the boat and eventually at 5:35 pm the two occupants of the boat were located and rescued. At the time of their rescue they were wearing life jackets.
The submerged boat was pulled into Woods Bay where it was recovered via a barge at the direction of Montana FWP and the Lake County Office of Emergency Management.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is still investigating the cause of the boat sinking. However, preliminary information indicated the boat sank very quickly and that life jackets were not being worn prior to this.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone involved in this rescue operation. We’d also like to remind folks that Flathead Lake, and boating in general, can be very dangerous, and you should wear a life jacket at all times.