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Scout groups rescued after cannoeing trip gone wrong

Southern Utah

Courtesy of Emery County Sheriff’s Office

CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Two Cedar City scout groups were rescued by Emery County Sheriff’s Office personnel from a canoeing adventure on the Green River Tuesday afternoon.

Sgt. Mitch Vetere of the Emery County Sheriff’s Office said he received a call from a relative stating that a distraught young man had shown up at a farm needing assistance.

Sgt. Vetere said he responded to the farm and spoke with the young man who said his canoe had sunk and floated down the river. The young man said there were over 20 scouts and leaders in his group, most of them in homemade canoes.

Sgt. Vetere reportedly got on a boat with the young man and headed to the Green River State Park boat ramp where they found one of the scout leaders.

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, according to officials.

A gentleman that lives down river reportedly also pulled up with three more scouts and a leader who had aborted their trip after too many canoe problems.

Officials said Sgt. Vetere, Deputy Jeff Newland, and Deputy Dylan Keele accompanied by two scout leaders launched a rescue boat and headed down river in an attempt to locate the other scouts and leaders.

The boat crew saw one scout clinging to a tree about a mile downstream, according to officials. The crew was able to coax him to let go and float to the boat using his life jacket.

The crew continued downstream and according to officials found the rest of the scouts and leaders.

Officials said the boat crew was 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 could be picked up by a vehicle.

The scout’s groups planned to canoe from Green River State Park to Mineral Bottoms which according to officials is a distance of 57 river miles. The trip ended only four miles from the boat ramp.

Sgt. Vetere said the homemade canoes had “no business” on the river especially with the conditions of the water running a little high even for commercial canoes with experienced canoers.

Sheriff Greg Funk emphasized that those planning on being on the river in Emery County should do their research, know their limitations and be prepared.

He added, “”We have had numerous river rescues over the years – – – on the Green, the San Rafael, and the Muddy. 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.”

Officials said the total time of the rescue was three hours and all were accounted for.

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