CASPER, Wyo. — An orphaned flip-flop wedged into an overturned Yamaha WaveRunner was all that remained of the personal watercraft's operator.
The harrowing discovery by the owner of Alcova Marina triggered an exhaustive search and rescue operation as the sun was setting Tuesday evening.
About 7:45 p.m., the Natrona County Sheriff's Office was alerted about the watercraft floating upside down on the east side of Goose Island in the Alcova Reservoir, according to scanner reports. The marina owner pulled the machine out of the water somewhere between Cottonwood Beach and Black Beach.
Deputies put a boat in the water about 8:20 and called in Life Flight. The search was suspended about 8:45, according to the scanner.
Authorities found their man by Wednesday morning. He and his passenger were alive and well.
The 19- and 20-year old men had actually stolen the watercraft but were stranded when it capsized, according to sheriff's office Lt. Gus Holbrook. The two were unable to turn the watercraft back over and were forced to swim about 100 yards to shore, “in cold water,” Holbrook added.
Holbrook said witnesses had seen the men on the watercraft earlier and someone knew their names.
Authorities arrested the two on outstanding warrants and were questioning them about stealing the WaveRunner. Their names will not be released until they are officially charged, Holbrook said.
Holbrook said deputies have cited the two for larceny, but they have yet to be charged by the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office. Holbrook said he expects the two will be in court in the next several days.
Star-Tribune staff writer EJ Conzola contributed to this report.