Missing Fisherman Recovered from Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

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Date: September 24, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt , 406 888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof , 406 888-7895

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – The body of 30-year-old Michael William Sloan from Hungry Horse, Montana, was recovered from Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park shortly before noon on Friday, September 24, 2010. The Flathead County Sheriff's Dive Team brought their specialized equipment and expertise and was instrumental in the recovery effort. The county used a small submersible remote operated vehicle with an onboard camera to locate the victim about 200 yards from shore and about 65 feet below the surface at the head of Lake McDonald. Side scan sonar used by the dive team on Thursday significantly narrowed the search area for Friday's recovery efforts.

Chief Ranger Mark Foust said, "We are saddened by the loss of Mr. Sloan, and on behalf of park management and staff, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends. We appreciate the hard work, dedication and commitment to safety shown by everyone involved in the search and recovery effort.  Our friends and partners with the Flathead County Sheriff's Department, Flathead County Search and Rescue, and North Valley Search and Rescue are greatly appreciated." 

The search effort started Tuesday evening, September 21, after Sloan failed to show up for a scheduled work shift and was reported missing to the Glacier Dispatch Center. A friend knew Sloan was fishing that afternoon in the Upper McDonald Creek area at the north end of Lake McDonald. Park rangers quickly located Sloan's vehicle by the bridge over Upper McDonald Creek and the search began.

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 Sheriff's 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 identified as Sloan's. Based on the location of the fishing pole and all other evidence the search was then 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 during the search was about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The primary search tool Thursday was the county's sonar being used with an NPS boat to scan the lake bottom.

This is the second drowning fatality in Glacier this year, and the third in five years. Water related accidents remain the number one cause of death in the park. Visitors are reminded to be extremely careful when recreating on or near water.  

- NPS – 

Editors Note: Photographs of the submergible and of the search effort are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/glaciernpsnews/. These photos are public domain but do require an NPS Photo credit.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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