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Contact: Amy Vanderbilt , 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof , 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Today (Thursday) the search area for a missing 30-year-old man from Hungry Horse, Montana, has been narrowed to the head of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park after an extensive ground and aerial search Wednesday, September 23 failed to provide any clues. The search effort resumed Thursday at 8 a.m. and is now in its third day. Flathead County is assisting the National Park Service (NPS) by providing the use of a sonar device and the county dive team.
Michael William Sloan is missing after an afternoon fishing trip to the Upper McDonald Creek area at the north end of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. A friend says Sloan asked him to go fishing around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 21; however, the friend was unable to join him. Sloan did not show up for a scheduled work shift later that afternoon and was reported missing to Glacier Dispatch shortly before 6 p.m. Park rangers located Sloan's vehicle by the bridge over Upper McDonald Creek at 6:20 p.m.
Tuesday evening and into the night, park rangers searched both banks of Upper McDonald Creek by ground, the shoreline of the north end of Lake McDonald and the confluence of the lake and creek by boat, but did not locate Sloan. The NPS resumed the search Wednesday assisted by Flathead County Search and Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, the Flathead County Dive Team and a contracted helicopter from Minuteman Aviation of West Glacier. A total of 45 people were involved in the Wednesday search but air and ground search efforts turned up no clues.
On Wednesday, divers found a fishing pole where the creek empties into Lake McDonald that family members believe belongs to Sloan. Based on the location of the fishing pole and all other evidence the search has been focused in this area, which is extremely treacherous due to a steep drop-off accompanied by very powerful down-flowing currents. The water surface temperature is currently about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Search managers stress that safety is a top concern for everyone involved in the operation.
The primary search tool is the county's sonar being used with an NPS boat to scan the lake bottom. Members of the Flathead County Dive Team are on scene and are ready to assist should the sonar spot something at a depth and location that is safe for the divers. These efforts are constantly being monitored and evaluated to ensure everyone stays safe.
This search serves as a reminder to anyone recreating near water to be extremely careful. The swift, cold streams and rivers, moss-covered rocks and slippery logs can all be dangerous. Children, boaters, photographers, swimmers and anglers have been victim to these sometimes rapid, cold streams and deep glacial lakes in and around Glacier National Park. Visitors should pay close attention when wading or swimming in area lakes as drop-offs are common and seldom easy to see. Never walk, play or climb on slippery rocks and logs, especially around waterfalls. When boating, don't stand up or lean over the side, and always wear a lifejacket.
No further details are available at this time; additional information will be released as it becomes available.
- NPS -