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Bodies of 2 Missoula County fishermen recovered from Marias River

South Bootlegger Recreation Area
Search underway for two missing men in Toole County
Posted at 4:46 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 19:37:56-05

GREAT FALLS — The bodies of the two Missoula County fishermen who went into the Marias River in Toole County last week have been recovered.

The Toole County Sheriff's Office said in a news release on Tuesday afternoon that the suspected location was opened in the ice and two divers went into the water, found the bodies, and brought them to the surface.

The bodies will be taken to the State Crime Lab by the Toole County Coroner. The names of the two men have not yet been released.

The two men were missing on Feb. 9 when a side-by-side they were traveling in did not return to camp. A friend followed the tracks that he found and noticed that they ended in open water on the Marias River.

Investigators learned that the men had left camp earlier in the day to visit people staying at a second camp located on the south side of the river west of South Bootlegger.

When they did not return, a third man in their party went to find them, following their tracks to an area of open water.

After an extensive search of the area, the only tracks located leaving the campsite were tracks leading onto the ice and into an area of open water.

Floating in the open water were items identified by the initial reporting party as being on the side-by-side when it left camp. Air and ground search efforts turned up no further clues that anyone left the water.

Sub-zero temperatures and severe weather at the location hampered earlier efforts for responders to safely make the recovery.

The following agencies assisted in the recovery effort: Cascade County Sheriff's Office, Cascade County Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff's Office, Toole County Search & Rescue, and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.