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Search and rescue teams see busiest time of year in August and September

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Park County Sheriff's Office Park County Sheriff's Office

LIVINGSTON - It's the busiest time of year for search and rescue teams in southwestern Montana.

The Park County Sheriff's Office and several agencies collaborated on two large search and rescue operations recently, including recovery efforts for a 15-year-old boy missing in the Yellowstone River and a Michigan hiker whose body was recovered from the Crazy Mountains on Wednesday.

"We're in an area that sometimes our recreation can turn into recoveries and search," says Sgt. Brad Bichler with the Park County Sheriff's Office. "It's not uncommon for us to have two going at the same time."

Bichler says conducting two big search efforts at once can complicate things.

"It does make it very difficult though when we have two going at the same time," he says, "to split resources and triage which event we need to put more resources on."

The key to finding people faster is sharing resources between counties, says Capt. Jason Jarrett with Gallatin County Search and Rescue.

"We were in Flathead County this winter when they were looking for their missing doctor," Jarrett says. "Flathead County was down here, helping us look for James Anderson."

So far in 2018, Gallatin County Search and Rescue has conducted 60 operations. Jarrett says it's a pretty normal number.

"A certain percentage of those, about 12 percent actually, involve out-of-county responses," Jarrett says. "And that's a very Montana kinda thing. There is no one jurisdiction that has enough resources and enough people to handle major events."

For search and rescue crews across the state, July, August and early September see the most calls for help.

Jarrett says crews will be ready to go where they're needed, when they're needed.

"It wouldn't work without that kind of cooperation," he says. "Sheriffs have figured that out years and years ago. Nobody is big enough to take care of everything that could possibly happen."

The Michigan hiker reported missing on Monday was found dead in a steep, rocky part of the Crazies on Wednesday. The search continues for 15-year-old James Anderson.

Bichler says they're running boats along the Yellowstone River every morning, but still have not found Anderson's body.

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