A Sun Valley businessman who turned up in Louisiana during the past week after being missing since July 11 and presumed drowned planned his disappearance for months, Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said.
But why Bud Feltman, 56, owner of Sun Valley Sport Vision, wanted to disappear remains a mystery, Femling said Friday.
Family members left on Thursday for Lake Charles, La., to bring Feltman back to Idaho. A psychological evaluation will be conducted, and Femling said there would be an investigation after Feltman returns.
“I’m glad the search is over. It’s been a long week for a lot of people,” the sheriff said. “My anger is for the people who were out there on the scene who were the ones that gave up their jobs, gave up their family obligations and some of them were in situations that were dangerous at times.”
Search-and-rescue crews were alerted on the evening of July 11 when Feltman was overdue from a fishing trip by himself. His vehicle was located at the Richfield Canal diversion and a full-scale search was launched.
The week-long effort involved search-and-rescue teams from Blaine, Lincoln and Camas counties, the Bureau of Land Management and community volunteers. Dog teams from Blaine, Bonneville and Camas counties also were called in. There was a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft search, and dive teams from Blaine and Cassia counties searched three miles of the Big Wood River. In all, 265 people helped in the search.
Femling said that on the third day of the search his department began investigating the possibility that Feltman staged his disappearance. Interviews of friends revealed Feltman had reported his Suburban stolen in Twin Falls last March.
During the past week Feltman’s wife, Judy, received a note from him delivered by Federal Express. In the note, he apologized for his actions and discussed their private life, Femling said.
Feltman later called his wife from Louisiana, where he apparently drove in the Suburban he reported stolen, the sheriff said.
He said Feltman’s family has offered to pay for the search-and-rescue expenses, which may be in the “tens of thousands of dollars.”