A concession employee who reportedly was floating down the Yellowstone River near Tower Junction on an inner tube despite Park rules is now missing and the subject of a search by Yellowstone National Park rangers and workers. UPDATED!
Three young concession employees, including 22-year-old Darien Latty, reportedly used inner tubes to float the Lamar River on Monday. Floating the river is prohibited by park regulations due to safety concerns. Shortly after reaching the confluence of the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers, two of the men got out of the water, but Latty did not. He was was last seen about 7:30 p.m. Monday being propelled downstream by the rushing water, without either an inner tube or life jacket.
Initial search efforts Monday evening failed to turn up any sign of Latty, who is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Search efforts were increased Tuesday, with a helicopter, three dog teams, and several small groups of people searching the Yellowstone River corridor from Tower Junction downstream to Gardiner, Montana. Approximately 50 people had been dedicated to the search effort as of mid-afternoon Tuesday.
The accident comes at a time when there’s a debate over expanded paddling within Yellowstone National Park. Of course, you’d expect most folks to be better prepared for kayaking and paddling within Yellowstone National Park if regulations were in place. But the thing is, you need to be prepared for the folks who see that paddling is allowed and then hit the rivers armed with nothing but an inner tube.
UPDATE: Here’s a statement issued by Yellowstone National Park on Aug. 13:
The search for 22-year old Darien Latty has entered its second full day.
About 50 National Park Service employees are involved in the search effort.
We continue to utilize a helicopter, dog teams and ground teams to search along the Yellowstone River corridor from Tower Junction to Gardiner, Montana.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, we have yet to find the missing 22 year old.