MISSOULA, Mont. – Idaho law enforcement officials have called off the search for four hunters missing since their vehicle crashed into the fast-moving Selway River more than a week ago.
Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings told the Missoulian that searchers found a boot, but nothing more, despite the help of a fast-water diver, search dogs, a helicopter and float and ground teams from both Idaho and Montana.
“After so long, there’s only so much you can do,” Giddings said. “A search like this can go on forever.”
Six men were in the sport utility vehicle when it flipped upside down into the frigid whitewater in a remote part of Idaho near the Montana border on May 21. Two of the men inside, Jesse Gunin and Jason Lewis of Georgia, were able to escape the vehicle and make it to shore.
The other four – identified as 21-year-old Koby J. Clark of Bozeman, Montana; 22-year-old Reece L. Rollins of Terrebonne, Oregon; and brothers Raymond and Jesse Ferrieri, ages 24 and 21, of Mahopac Falls, New York – haven’t been seen since the crash. No bodies were found inside the vehicle.
The men were on the last day of a bear and wolf hunt, and the vehicle was traversing a narrow dirt road along the river when the crash occurred.
Giddings said it often takes time to recover bodies from the water. That’s partly because the remains often sink until enough gasses begin to form during the decomposition process to cause them to float, he said.
“With this cold water, it’s hard to know how long that will take,” Giddings said. “Sometimes it takes two weeks and sometimes it takes longer.”
The river is federally designated a wild and scenic river. The U.S. Forest Service allows only one launch a day through the prime floating season.
Officials with the Bitterroot National Forest are asking floaters to watch for any evidence from the crash and get GPS coordinates if possible if they spot anything that could be helpful to the searchers.