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Recovered

The body of a man who drowned Wednesday afternoon in the Tongue River was discovered Friday morning. 

The body of a man who drowned Wednesday afternoon in the Tongue River was discovered Friday morning in a large pool of water near where he was last seen. 

The Rosebud County Sheriff's Office identified the man as Jason Blankenship of Otter. Blankenship's body was discovered at about 11 a.m., according to a search update posted to the sheriff's office Facebook page Friday afternoon. 

Blankenship, 43, had been swimming in the river south of Birney with family Wednesday when he didn't surface after going under, Fulton said Thursday.

A sonar device was able to help searchers find the body wrapped up in an underwater tree in a log-filled, murky area of the water, Fulton said.

The drowning appears to be related to swimming ability and not entanglement with debris, Fulton said.

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Searchers aided by boats and an airplane looked for Blankenship until it became too dark to continue Wednesday night. The search resumed Thursday as a recovery effort aided by sonar equipment and divers.

Varying depth along the river bottom complicated the use of sonar Thursday, Fulton said.

Friday law enforcement continued the search with three kayakers, two jet boats and volunteers. 

"We would like to thank the local volunteers who were not part of search and rescue, but continued to help out in any way they could," the post signed by Sheriff Allen Fulton says. "A big thanks goes out to Lohof and Hayes ranches for allowing us unrestricted access to the river." 

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Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.