Searchers on Monday recovered the body of a 36-year-old Huntley man who died after likely slipping into the Stillwater River on Sunday while trying to rescue his dog.
“Him and his wife and his dog were going to go fishing and the dog fell in the water and he chased after along the bank,” said Stillwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Cole Waltner. “She lost sight of him on the shore.”
Stillwater County officials began searching for Travis James Cellan after he was reported missing near the Woodbine Campground area off Route 419 at about 10 a.m. Sunday.
His body was found at 10:30 Monday morning near the Buffalo Jump fishing access site in Nye, about six miles from the campground. The dog, a border collie-Australian shepherd mix, has not been found.
Members of the Nye Volunteer Fire Company led the search for Cellan until Stillwater County Search and Rescue took over Sunday afternoon.
About 18 members of the search and rescue team coordinated by Waltner scoured the islands and shores along the raging river, using Stillwater Mining Co. property as an incident command post.
Two Absaroka Search Dog teams aided in the effort, while a swift-water swimming team and a raft team scanned the waters.
Some of Cellan’s relatives also helped as bridge spotters, while many others traveled from Billings and Huntley to wait for news together in the Woodbine Campground to the southwest of Nye.
Waltner said the river dropped from running between 3,800 and 4,600 cubic feet per second Sunday to a flow of 2,400 cubic feet per second Monday.
“With all of the rain we’ve had, it’s still a full river right now,” Waltner said.
The county handles four to eight river rescues in a year, and this is the second life the Stillwater has taken in as many years, he said.
“Respect the river. If you’re not real confident, don’t go near it. Even stuff that looks easy can be more than a person can handle,” Waltner said.
MONDAY MORNING REPORT:
Officials have resumed their search today near the Woodbine campground area in Stillwater County for a Huntley man who was reported missing Sunday morning.
According to the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, the 36-year-old man was reported missing at about 10 a.m.
He was last seen following his dog along the bank of the Stillwater River after the dog entered the water.
A search and rescue team is looking for the man, who was fishing in the area southwest of Nye off Route 419.