Road to Recovery

Recovery efforts for Bismarck man presents new challenges

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Recovery efforts are still underway after a Bismarck man capsized his boat in a river west of Mandan. And thanks to weather conditions, it has gotten a lot harder.

Tuesday afternoon, multiple first responding agencies continued to search Heart River for 74 year old Lynn Fairfield. They started the day before by checking on land in case he was able to get out of the water in time. But that was quickly ruled out by the lack of footprints. 

“The next step is to look into the water at that point. And at that point, it becomes a recovery operation not a rescue,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchemeier. 

They scanned the water with grappling hooks and a remote-operated vehicle to search under the water. At that time, there was little ice surrounding the area where the boat was found. 
Now, it’s a different story.

Sheriff Kirchmeier added, “As we were wrapping up the day’s activities, the ice jam that we were watching most of the day did let loose.”

The sheer amount of ice chunks that have accumulated over night is what’s preventing water recovery efforts, according to Sheriff Kirchmeier. He says this is without a doubt the worst time of year for this to happen.

He added, “Underneath that is a lot of ice that you don’t see, chunks that don’t come to the surface, so that’s what makes it dangerous to have anybody in the water at this point,”

On top of that, the water has risen more than 2 feet over night. They’re resorting to strictly searching by drone and plane in hopes the body surfaces along the shore. And they’re still getting help from agencies like the highway patrol and mandan rural fire. 

“Just like anything else, you are limited in resources on what you can do. But it’s very nice knowing that cooperation is out there, and we can work together to try to accomplish a positive outlook,” said Sheriff Kirchmeier. 

Sheriff Kirchmeier says they aren’t giving up now and won’t for weeks.

Other agencies that have helped in the recovery efforts are the Burleigh County dive team and swift water rescue team.

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