Search and Rescue Now Looking for Body

By on July 5, 2017

JACKSON HOLE, WY – The search for 21-year-old Oliver Woodward, missing on the Snake River since Tuesday, July 4, is moving from a search to a recovery when it resumes Thursday morning, meaning search and rescue crews are likely looking for a body.

Woodward’s raft flipped in King’s Wave, near the Boy Scout camp between Hoback and Astoria, at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Of the six people in his crew, four returned to the boat safely, one made it to shore and was later near the Boy Scout camp. Woodward was last seen floating down the river in green swim shorts. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Teton County Sheriff’s Office received a call for help at 7:46 p.m. Tuesday. Multiple agencies, including Teton County Search and Rescue and Teton County Sheriff’s Office, searched for Woodward on the water until 10:40 pm. The search resumed at 8 a.m. Wednesday when the water temperature was about 45 degrees. “It heats up a little bit throughout the day,” Sargent Lloyd Funk of Teton County Sheriff’s office said, but not enough to sustain life for very long. In such cold water people can start to lose bodily function after just 10 to 15 minutes.

Teams searched until 4 p.m. Wednesday and will resume the search 8 a.m. Thursday. “We’re gonna pretty much mirror the search we had today,” Funk said. Search parameters are focused primarily on the area between Astoria bridge and close to where the boat flipped. But the search could likely take several days. “In rivers such as this, once bodies go under in these water temps, you’re typically looking at 12 to 15 days before the body resurfaces,” Funk said.

The party of six had rented life preservers with the raft. “We hear that everyone put life preservers on for a short time,” Funk said, but by the time they flipped all six had removed them. There was alcohol on the boat, but the sheriff’s department isn’t considering any criminal charges right now. The main oarsman only had one beer, Funk said, and is of legal drinking age.

The river was brimming with people on boats for the Fourth of July holiday, and Funk said he saw “a lot of alcohol being moved to boats,” and not a lot of life preservers. The river, he said, is “very dangerous” right now.

“I grew up here and this water’s the highest I’ve ever seen it, and is flowing the fastest I’ve ever seen it,” he said. His warning to rafters: If you’re going to drink, don’t drink in excess, and “use those dang life preservers, they’re there for a reason.”

Woodward’s family has been notified and is in Jackson Hole. Woodward is six feet tall, white, and was last seen wearing green board shorts. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Teton County Sheriff’s Office.


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