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Yellowstone River winds through Yankee Jim Canyon

The Yellowstone River winds through Yankee Jim Canyon near Gardiner. A missing boater was found dead near the canyon Friday morning after his raft had flipped the night before.

Search crews found a missing rafter on the Yellowstone River near Yankee Jim Canyon Friday morning. 

Park County Undersheriff Clay Herbst identified the man as 49-year-old Mark Everett Shirtliff of Ellicott City, Maryland.

Crews found the body of Shirtliff, who had been reported missing Thursday evening, near the north end of the canyon at 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to an update from Park County Sheriff Scott Hamilton.  

Park County Dispatch received a report of person floating in the river near the popular canyon and the Carbella fishing access on Thursday at 7:40 p.m., according to a press release from the sheriff's office. The person appeared unconscious, according to the release.

A rafting party of three had launched at the Joe Brown access but flipped in the Yankee Jim Canyon. The area is roughly 18 miles north of Gardiner. 

The missing rafter had last been seen floating away Thursday evening. 

Deputies, firefighters, and a search and rescue crew responded, and an air crew flew over the river to search for the person, according to the press release. It became dark before boat operators could respond to the scene and the search was suspended due to lack of light and safety concerns, the sheriff’s office said.

The search resumed Friday morning with boat and air crews.


The spelling of the deceased rafter’s name and hometown have been corrected.


Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.