Jun 17, 2015

Searchers find body of reservoir drowning victim


After a more than a week of searching, members of the Park County Search and Rescue Unit have recovered the body of a Billings man presumed to have drowned in the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

Merle H. Daly, 80 years old and a former Cody resident, had been trying to swim to his drifting boat on the afternoon of June 8 when he reportedly called out and disappeared below the water.

The search effort included help from the Sublette County boat, “Closure,” shown in the background. Photo courtesy Park County Sheriff's Office
Daly and a friend had been resting on an island almost due south of the boat ramp and near the reservoir’s southern shore when their boat drifted away, the friend later told the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

The friend was stranded on the island area for a couple hours before being able to flag down a passing boat for help. Park County’s search and rescue team immediately responded to the call and began a search.

They spent the following eight days combing the half-mile east and west of where Daly was last seen, enlisting the aid of canines and a sonar-equipped boat from Sublette County. Daly’s body ultimately came to the surface and was found around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the general area where he’d disappeared, the sheriff’s office said in a Wednesday news release.

Park County Coroner Tim Power, who received the body from the searchers, praised the team’s “tremendous job of staying with it” in the recovery mission.

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