Search to continue Saturday for missing Utah fishermen

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WASATCH COUNTY, Utah — The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office said the search is winding down for the night for two men who disappeared while fishing on Strawberry Reservoir.

The men, identified as 70-year-old James (Jim) Gardiner of Salem and 61-year-old Mark Gardiner of Pleasant Grove, went missing on Thursday.

Their boat was discovered beached on the northeast side of the reservoir near The Ladders, with the motor still running.

Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby said fishing gear was out on the boat, and a fish was found hooked on fishing line.

“One of the nets that family said should be there was not,” he said, during an interview Friday morning. “We run off different theories, and one of the theories is possibly … they were trying to net a fish and that something happened.”

After searching clear through the night Thursday, on Friday several agencies teamed up to scan the water with sonar equipment.

They faced challenges with the size of the search area and wind.

“It’s a tough one,” Sheriff Rigby said Friday afternoon. “As far as the search area, it’s more than a mile long. The water is, in a lot of places, 90 feet or more.”

If sonar detected any “targets,” Sheriff Rigby said they would send down ROVs, or underwater devices with cameras, to look at the targets and identify what sonar had detected.

He said one team took search dogs out on the water. The dogs are specialized in helping find people.

The Gardiner family also went out on the water, Rigby indicated.

“We took them out on the water, those that wanted to,” he said. “It helps, in a number of ways.”

By Friday evening, they still hadn’t found the Gardner brothers.

A DPS helicopter arrived at incident command, located at The Ladders, and began to fly directly over the shoreline of the reservoir. Searchers sat on the sides of the open doors of the helicopter, looking onto the shoreline below.

Sheriff Rigby said crews planned to keep searching until 11 p.m. or midnight, then would stop for the night and pick back up in the morning.