Search for missing teenager goes on

By: 
Johnathan Hettinger —
Friday, August 3, 2018

One week after a teenager went missing in a fatal drift boat accident on the Yellowstone River, search efforts continued Friday.

Six boats, a team of dogs and a helicopter continued searching the river Friday and will continue to search through the weekend, said Sgt. Brad Bichler, who is in charge of the effort for the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

Fifteen-year-old James Anderson went missing on July 27 after a drift boat carrying five people hit the pylon on the U.S. Highway 89 North bridge and flipped. Angie Anderson, the boy’s mother, died in the accident, while the three others, including the boy’s father, Jim Anderson, were able to swim to safety.

Jim Anderson is a captain with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

Last weekend, the search for the boy went as far as Columbus, but this week, the focus is on the area between the U.S. Highway 89 North bridge and Springdale.

Friday’s boats belonged to Gallatin, Rosebud, Missoula and Sweet Grass counties, with Park County using two of its own craft. On Thursday eight boats were out, from Gallatin, Park, Toole, Missoula, Cascade, Rosebud and Ravalli counties.

“We’re focusing mostly on water resources,” Bichler said.

On Friday, the Yellowstone River was running around 5,000 cubic feet per second, much lower than it had been.

“That creates problems of its own,” Bichler said.

Bichler said he expects the search to continue.

“We have operation plans scheduled through the weekend,” Bichler said.

Friends and family of the Andersons created a GoFund-Me web site, which so far has raised about $12,000 of its $40,000 goal. The address for the GoFundMe is https://www.gofundme.com/anderson-family-support?member=535578.

Those wishing to donate to the family can also do so by sending a check to the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The address is 34 W. Sixth Ave., Ste. 2E, Helena, MT 59601.

Those preferring to use a credit card may call (406) 443-5669.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said MSPOA is a nonprofit corporation, so donations will be tax deductible, and 100 percent of donations will go to the Anderson family.