Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs resident Brian Stothart disappeared while boating Saturday on the Encampment River in Wyoming. He is presumed drowned, according to a news release from the Carbon County Sheriff's Office in Rawlins, Wyo.
Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson said Stothart was in a boat with one paddle and a cockpit, which was classified as a kayak.
Barry Smith, who runs the Mountain Sports Kayaking School in Steamboat, said Stothart was an avid canoeist.
"It's kind of like the telemark skiing of going down the river," Smith said. "He would paddle an open canoe for one person."
Stothart and four others were boating in the Encampment River Canyon, Colson said. They launched from Commissary Park to travel through a section called Damnation Alley.
Stothart, 35, disappeared after the other four stopped at an eddy. He missed the eddy, tipped and then righted his kayak, Colson said. Stothart then went over a drop. His fellow boaters didn't see any sign of him before his kayak appeared and floated away upside down, Colson said.
Colson said his office received the call for help at about 5 p.m. Saturday.
Cory Nuhn, a member of Upper Valley Search and Rescue, helped search for Stothart. On Saturday night, searchers walked the trail by the river, Nuhn said. Sunday, they rode horses and used an airplane and a helicopter for search efforts. About 18 people participated in the search, not including sheriff's deputies, Nuhn said.
"In the 15 years I've been on search and rescue, this is the first water rescue we've been called on," he said.
The Encampment River Canyon runs about 15 miles from the Colorado border to the town of Encampment, Wyo., Colson said. Searchers checked the Encampment and Platte Rivers by air Tuesday morning and didn't find Stothart, he said. The Encampment connects with the Platte.
Searchers found Stothart's life vest and float bag about half a mile downstream from where he was last seen. Colson said his office would suspend the search until the Encampment River receded.
"That could take two or three weeks," Colson said. "That water's running high and fast."
By about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the river was flowing at 1,270 cubic feet per second at its mouth near Encampment, Wyo. The Yampa River, by comparison, was flowing at 1,480 cubic feet per second through downtown Steamboat Springs.
Smith said Stothart was a nice, good-looking guy and a skilled canoeist.
"He's quite talented," Smith said. "He was good; he could roll the canoe."
Stothart was married and had children, Smith said.
"I just saw him the other night when he was teaching a rolling class. : I saw him in the pool and talked to him a little bit," Smith said. "That was the last time I saw him."