Natrona County Search and Rescue Operation Successful
At around 1:50 pm on Friday, August 5, 2022, Natrona County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a Search And Rescue call in the area of Rim Campground on Muddy Mountain in Natrona County, Wyoming. It was determined, through the reporting party’s communications with Casper Public Safety Communications Center dispatchers, that the missing individual was a juvenile male with a cognitive disability, who had left a group at approximately 1:00 pm, according to a recent press release from the Natrona County Sherriff's Office on Facebook.
The initial responding deputy arrived on scene and obtained a detailed description of the individual. It was determined that the missing individual was last seen at a Lodgepole Campground site. Several additional responding deputies, as well as Natrona County Emergency Management personnel, arrived on scene of the area around 2:20 pm.
They quickly launched a coordinated Search and Rescue (SAR) operation, including resources from Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, a Casper Police Department Drone Operator, Casper Mountain Fire Department, and multiple BLM Fire Crews.
Request for support was also provided by the National Weather Service out of Riverton, Wyoming due to concerns of heavy thunderstorms and strong wind gusts rapidly developing directly over the search area.
Deputies and Search and Rescue personnel conducted preliminary searches of the Lodgepole campground, and areas immediately surrounding the last known location, utilizing standard rapid SAR tactics in order to deploy a full scale coordinated search effort. The rapid efforts were able to determine that the missing individual was traveling south and quickly away from searchers.
Emergency Management working directly with Wyoming Army National Guard (ARNG) Air and Ground Crews attempted to deploy a Blackhawk helicopter and Air Crew, specializing in rescue, to the search area, but was initially delayed due to thunderstorms in the area. Wyoming Army National Guard team members found a break in the storm systems and promptly deployed their rescue crew from Cheyenne, WY to the search area.
During the 45 to 60 minute flight time from Cheyenne, coordinated SAR activities continued to provide valuable information through a Tracking Team, a K9 Team, and many ground search teams.
The SAR Incident Management Team determined a search area for the Wyoming ARNG rescue team, radioing coordinates direct to the en-route aircraft. The Wyoming ARNG UH-60 helicopter arrived and began heading to the south of the search area, in an effort to begin their search from the air.
Within minutes of them arriving on station, they located the individual not far away from approaching ground SAR teams. The Wyoming ARNG Rescue Team was able to successfully make contact with the missing individual and navigate the unique challenges of safely transporting the patient to a waiting NCSO and Volunteer SAR Team who initially assessed the patient and transported him to a WyMC ambulance, where he underwent further medical assessment and transport to Banner Wyoming Medical Center.
After ensuring all search team members were accounted for and safely out of the search area, the entire operation concluded at around 10 pm. This unique Search and Rescue was successful despite adverse weather and search conditions, in heavily wooded and remote terrain, because of the training and dedication of Natrona County Search and Rescue Volunteers, Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Staff, Casper Police Department Staff, Casper Mountain Fire District Volunteers, BLM Fire Crews, Wyoming Office of Homeland Security Staff, Wyoming National Guard Crews, the Wyoming Army National Guard Joint Operations Center, and the Air Force Rescue Center.
“The efforts of rescuers involved to safely return this missing person to their family is a demonstration of their fervent dedication to their neighbors,” said Natrona County Sheriff John Harlin. “The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, and the Volunteer Search and Rescue Team will continue to strive for this outcome on all of our searches through our training, our commitment, and our resolve.”