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Idaho sheriff calls off search for four men missing after crash into remote Selway River

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Selway River wreck

The official search for four men missing after their vehicle flipped into the Selway River will end Tuesday. Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said there won't be anyone from his office at the remote site about 50 miles west of Darby after Tuesday. 

The official search for four hunters missing since their vehicle plunged into frigid fast-flowing waters of the Selway River May 21 is over.

After Tuesday, Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said there will not be anyone from his office remaining at the remote site about 50 miles west of Darby.

“After so long, there’s only so much you can do,” Giddings said. “A search like this can go on forever.”

The Chevrolet Suburban flipped upside down in the river in the early morning hours as the men were traveling the narrow dirt road on their last day of a bear and wolf hunt.

Two men from Georgia were able to make it to shore.

The missing men have been identified as Koby J. Clark, 21, of Bozeman; Reece L. Rollins, 22, of Terrebonne, Oregon; and brothers Raymond, 24, and Jesse Ferrieri, 21, both of Mahapac Falls, New York.

Giddings said searchers were able to get on the other side of river over the weekend and scoured the banks there. They did find a boot, but that was all.

A fast-water diver also was on the scene last weekend, Giddings said. He dove in some of the shallower areas of the river and inspected a log jam that a search dog had indicated some interest in, but that search was unsuccessful as well.

“Ravalli County has helped us tremendously,” Giddings said. “They had a float team and other people there. We ended up with four dog teams from Montana. The dogs did hit in a couple of spots, but they didn’t find anything.”

Working with Idaho’s Clearwater County search and rescue team, Giddings said they made three trips with a backcountry helicopter service looking for the lost men. Two Bear Air from Kalispell also helped in the initial search.

“It happens the same way every time,” Giddings said. “When you drown, you go down. When the body fills with gas, it comes back up. With this cold water, it’s hard to know how long that will take. Sometimes it takes two weeks and sometimes it takes longer. If the bodies didn’t hook up on something, they could go a long way.”

Giddings has been answering media inquiries from New York. That can be a challenge in attempting to explain the remoteness of the area and just how fast the river is running right now.

“I’ve told them there is more news media in New York than there are people in our county,” Giddings said. “It’s basically a seven or eight hour drive for us to just get there…People back there don’t understand how fast moving and deep the river is right now. They think it winds through meadows and you can walk along the edge and check."

“The Selway is very different from what folks in the flatlands are used to,” he said.

The river is federally designated a wild and scenic river. The U.S. Forest Service allows only one launch a day through the prime floating season. Some permit holders cancelled their trips due to the unusually high water this spring.

The Bitterroot Forest is asking floaters to watch for any evidence from the crash and get GPS coordinates if possible if they spot anything that could be helpful to the searchers.

Giddings said family members of the missing hunters remain at the site.

“I don’t know how long they will be there,” he said. “I think they are coming to realize that it’s a big and rugged area.”

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Associate Editor

Reporter for The Ravalli Republic.

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