Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said early this week that 9-1-1 received a call from a distressed boater that their boat was sinking on Flathead Lake, but contact was lost before the exact location could be determined.

“9-1-1 was able to utilize GPS technology to determine the location as being 2.2 miles east of Bear Dance near mile marker 23 on Highway 35,” said Sheriff Bell. “Lake County search and rescue was paged and two boats were deployed from Polson. Deputies, Search and Rescue members and a Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks warden sergeant attempted to search for the craft. While the search was ongoing, a report came in of two overdue boaters to 9-1-1.”

Bell said the missing boat was finally spotted.

“Shore personnel eventually spotted the tip of the boat’s bow over two miles from the east shore of Flathead Lake,” he said. “Search and Rescue personnel located the boat at about 5:35 p.m. the two occupants of the boat were located and rescued. At the time, the two were wearing life jackets.”

Bell said the submerged boat was pulled into Woods Bay where it was recovered via a barge at the direction of personnel from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Lake County Office of Emergency Management.

“FWP is still investigating the cause of the boat sinking, however, preliminary information indicates that the boat sank very quickly and that life jackets were not being worn prior to that time,” he said. “The Lake County Sheriff’s Office thanks all involved in the rescue operation, and reminds visitors that Flathead Lake and boating in general can be very dangerous, and a life jacket should be worn at all times.”

The two rescued boaters were not identified.


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