The Natrona County Sheriffs Department should have new water rescue capabilities by summer.

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Sheriff Mark Benton outlined the plan to County Commissioners this week for purchase of a new rescue airboat principally for deployment on the North Platte river.

"because we do end up, unfortunately, searching for people on the river and we haven't had a water craft that's had the ability to do that. You can use it on ice, you can use it on dry land, you can use it in and out of the water. Its pretty versatile."


He says a second traditional watercraft will be purchased for use out at the reservoirs, but this one, he says, they want closer to town.

"We're anticipating another issue this spring with high water. We got pretty fortunate last year with the water that we had in June. It was really high and we had a lot of people recreating on the river when the water was high and it was running fast."

Money for the purchase, $145,000, comes out of the asset forfeiture program; that's revenue generated from property seized during criminal investigations. The Sheriff says this will be the first such rescue craft for the department. He says the airboat will be custom designed to fit the needs of Natrona County.

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