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11 rafters stranded overnight on Green River rescued

Published: Wednesday, June 11 2014 11:30 a.m. MDT

A sign posted near the boat launch on the Green River at the base of Flaming Gorge Dam warns visitors about the danger posed by increased releases from the dam. Six adults and five children who had been rafting on the high-flowing Green River were rescued Wednesday morning after spending the night stranded.

Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

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MANILA, Daggett County — Six adults and five children who had been rafting on the high-flowing Green River were rescued Wednesday morning after spending the night stranded.

The Daggett County Sheriff's Office was notified about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday that the group was overdue and had failed to meet up with family members at a prearranged location. Deputies and search and rescue crews checked locations along the river but were unable to find anything, said sheriff's spokeswoman Susie Potter.

Classic Lifeguard's helicopter was called to assist in the search about 10:30 p.m. The group was eventually spotted along the bank in a remote area of the river about three miles from Little Hole that was impossible to reach by land, she said.

"It was obvious the occupants of the raft had gone into the water, and the raft was not visible in the area," Potter said in a prepared statement.

Once searchers determined the group was safe, they decided to drop supplies, such as blankets, coats, food, water and fire-starting equipment. They also included a note informing the river rafters that rescuers would return in the morning to get them out, Potter said.

About 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, deputies and a Division of Wildlife Resource officer took a drift boat and a rubber raft down the river to rescue the group. The rescuers picked up the stranded party about 7:05 a.m. and took them down the river. Potter said all were in good condition.

"Although the rafters were cold and suffering from slight hypothermia, there were no injuries," she said.

The Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam is currently experiencing about 10 times the normal flow, Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen said. A Salt Lake man drowned Monday in the river after he and his 13-year-old son in a boat got tangled up in some debris. The teen was able to swim to safety, but Raymond E. Moody, 62, was not able to free himself.

Jorgensen again Wednesday warned those recreating in the area about the high dangers of the Green River because of the increased water release from the Flaming Gorge Dam.

The increased water release is intended to help native fish species in the river and to pass high spring runoff from the Green River's headwaters in Wyoming's Wind River mountain range downstream to Lake Powell, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

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