GREEN RIVER, Emery County — Two Boy Scout troops were rescued unharmed Wednesday after an “ill-fated” river trip in homemade canoes ended just several miles from the boat launch, authorities said.
The group of more than 20 Scouts and leaders set off from Green River State Park on Wednesday afternoon in mostly homemade canoes that were fashioned out of PVC pipe and wrapped with a plastic tarp material, according to a Facebook post from Emery County Sheriff’s Office.
The group, which was from Cedar City, planned to go 67 miles from the park to the Mineral Bottoms area just north of Canyonlands National Park, according to the post. However, their trip ended just 4 miles downstream.
A sheriff’s sergeant responded to a call of a young man who had shown up at a farm distraught and needing assistance, according to the post. The sergeant then launched a sheriff’s department boat that was staged in Green River and headed to the state park boat ramp, where one of the Scout leaders was waiting.
The Scout leader had sunk his canoe after just a few hundred yards but was able to get out of the river and get back to the boat ramp.
Shortly after, a man who lives downriver arrived with three more Scouts and one of their leaders who had stopped their trip after having canoe problems, according to the post.
Several other sheriff’s deputies proceeded down the river to find the rest of the Scouts and leaders. They found one Scout clinging to a tree about a mile downstream from the boat ramp, and he was able to float to the sheriff’s office boat using his life jacket, according to the post.
Authorities located the rest of the Scouts and leaders further downstream. Sheriff’s officials offloaded the canoes, which were bogged down with gear, from the river, the post states.
Authorities waited at the Crystal Geyser area several miles south of the state park until all members of the Scout group made it safely to the shore and were driven away from the area. The rescue lasted three hours total.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Mitch Vetere, who has extensive experience on the Green River, said in the post that the boats had “no business being on the river,” especially because the river is currently flowing swiftly.
It is running at 11,400 cubic feet per second as of Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch. That is a level at which the river might be too high even for some experienced boaters with sturdy canoes, Vetere said in the post.
Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk reminded people to do adequate research, know their limitations and be prepared while recreating on the rivers of Emery County.
“We have had numerous river rescues over the years,” Funk said in the Facebook post. “It is fortunate that the canoe problems happened early in this trip where there is access to the river from the banks, rather than farther downstream with sheer canyon walls. The Green River is wide, the water is cold, and hypothermia can set in in a matter of minutes.”