Kent Swa was reported missing yesterday, November 15th, by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. Not too long after the announcement was made, an update came through that Swa and his pup had been safely located, but no other details were shared.
Today, Tip Top Search and Rescue shared additional information on the weekend search for Swa.
Wyoming Highway Patrol informed agencies of a reported missing motorist who had last made contact with his family Friday evening. He was stopped behind the closed barrier on HWY 28 and made comments he may find another route around the mountain. His destination was Riverton, WY.
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office were notified when a “ping” of his cell phone appeared just NW of Pinedale. With the limit of towers to “ping” off, it was difficult to triangulate the exact location of the man in his vehicle. Tip Top SAR was activated Sunday morning with a plan of investigating all possible routes to Riverton, primarily focusing on the Union Pass route north of Pinedale. Due to the heavy snowfall this past weekend, a snowmachine team of SAR members was deployed to ride the Union Pass Road a see if any vehicle tracks could be located. A second team of side-by-sides drove into Green River Lakes to eliminate that possible route. SAR Incident Command requested Fremont County’s help, asking Dubois SAR to investigate Union Pass until they met up with the Tip Top SAR crew.
At 11:30 Tip Top SAR located a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle near Raspberry Creek on the Fremont/Sublette County line, having slid off the road and stuck. The team was promptly joined by Dubois SAR with all parties noticing a dog and man standing outside the vehicle. Both appeared in good health, considering his situation. The man had an extensive medical history and hadn’t had his medication or food since Friday, but had no complaints other than the cold and hunger. He had plenty of fuel left in his vehicle and had planned to stay put until help arrived.
Due to the family awaiting the motorist in Sublette County, Tip Top SAR bunded the man in warm clothing and brought him, his dog, and some personal belongings back down the trail until they met up with the side-by-side teams. The man was then transferred into a warm-cabbed vehicle and all parties returned to the Upper Green parking lot. Family was rendezvoused with the missing motorist at the SAR building and he was taken to Fremont County to his awaiting family.
In a one-week time period, Union Pass went from clear roads all the way to Dubois to upwards of 3 feet of snow, with lots of drifting. Winter is here to stay and this is a good reminder to check your routes before travel, plan extra time for inclement weather, have resources in your vehicle for survival should you become stranded, and ALWAYS let family and friends know where you are going.