GREEN RIVER, UT. – Emery County Sheriff’s Office personnel rescued two Cedar City scout groups from an ill-fated canoeing adventure on the Green River Utah on Wednesday afternoon.
The group of more than 20 Scouts and leaders set off from Green River State Park in homemade canoes made with PVC pipe and wrapped with a plastic tarp material.
The scout groups had planned to canoe from Green River State Park to Mineral Bottoms over the next few days, a distance of 67 river miles.
Their trip ended only four miles from the boat ramp. Sgt. Mitch Vetere, who has spent a lot of time on the river over the years, stated that homemade canoes of this type have no business being on the river, especially with the river currently running at 13,000 cfs. He stated that current river conditions are even a little high for commercial canoes with experienced canoers.
Sgt. Vetere received a call stating that a distraught young man had shown up at a farm needing assistance. Sgt. Vetere responded to the farm and spoke with the young man who stated that his canoe had sunk and floated down the river. He said there were other scouts and leaders in his group, most of which were in homemade canoes.
Sgt. Vetere hooked onto an Emery County Sheriff’s Office boat and headed to the Green River State Park boat ramp with the young man. When they got to the ramp, one of the scout leaders was there. The leader had sunk his canoe after traveling only a couple hundred yards but was able to self-rescue and make his way back to the boat ramp. A gentleman that lives down river then pulled up with three more scouts and a leader who had aborted their trip after too many canoe problems.
At that time, Sgt. Vetere, and other deputies launched a rescue boat and headed down river in an attempt to locate the other scouts and leaders. Two scout leaders accompanied them. The crew located one scout clinging to a tree about one mile downstream. They were able to coax him to let go and float to the boat using his life jacket. As the rescue team continued downstream, they located the rest of the scouts and leaders. Rescuers were able to offload the remaining canoes which were bogged down with gear, and stayed in the area until all made it safely to the shore at Crystal Geyser where they were picked up by vehicle.
Sheriff Greg Funk wants to emphasize that if you are going to be on the rivers in Emery County, do your research, know your limitations, and be prepared.
Total rescue time was three hours and all were accounted for. Good ending to what could have easily been a terrible tragedy.