Jefferson River scoured for missing Butte man over the weekend; body recovered Tuesday

At 8:45 a.m. on May 10, a Whitehall area resident reported to 911 what appeared to be a body floating in the Jefferson River near Cardwell, according to Madison County Sheriff Roger Thompson.

“Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson and Madison counties search and rescue responders and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks responded,” Thompson said. “FWP entered the river by boat and located a deceased person just west of Cardwell. His identity was confirmed as Cole Boehler, who went missing April 30.”

On Saturday, May 7, after a full day, extensive search was conducted with rescue personnel and resources from Madison, Jefferson, Silver Bow and Gallatin counties, the search for Boehler was suspended.

Boehler was last seen around 1:30 a.m. on April 30 after camping along the Jefferson River near Hells Canyon Road.

On Saturday, after a quick briefing from Ruby Valley Search and Rescue president Bill Sinclair, around 35 volunteers took to the Jefferson River either by raft, kayak or canoe.

Depending on body weight, Sinclair said it can take anywhere from seven to 14 days for a body to surface and begin to float.

“It also depends on what he may have eaten,” said Sinclair.

The May 7 search was conducted with four rafts, each equipped with a search dog out of Gallatin County, two kayaks, a canoe and Sinclair patrolling in a jet boat, along with three divers who floated the river letting the current carry them along the channels and toward potential snags.

The Saturday search focused on “hits” from the search dogs as they ran the riverbank and leaned over the rafts during the float.

“We want to let the dogs do their thing,” said Thompson during the briefing.

After several “hits” from the dogs, resulting in diver searches and probing areas of the river, rescue crews came up short and finished the day with no sign of Boehler.

Cardwell, where Boehler’s body was discovered, is located around 30 miles from Hells Canyon, where the extensive Saturday search effort took place.

“Cause of death is still under investigation,” Thompson concluded.

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