TOWNSEND – Officials searched Sunday for the body of a man whose vehicle went through the ice on Canyon Ferry Lake, the first of two that ended up in the water at the western Montana fishing spot within hours of each other.
Gregory Elliott, 51, of Townsend, was one of three people inside the vehicle when it broke through the ice Saturday afternoon. The vehicle went down in about 32 feet of water, about a mile offshore.
Another man and a 12-year-old boy were pulled out but Elliott couldn’t be saved, Broadwater County Undersheriff Wynn Meehan said.
“He came up twice and went straight back down, and we haven’t seen him since,” said Meehan.
A truck also went through the ice three hours later as the driver was on the phone with a deputy attempting to find a safe route off the frozen lake. The men in the truck survived, but a dog trapped inside died.
Meehan said the ice on that portion of the lake has been closed to motor vehicles.
He said about 200 to 300 people were on the ice either fishing or recreating that day, but pressure ridges bracketed the area. Many people decided to leave after the first vehicle went through.
Meehan said Sunday would be the last day of searching for Elliott’s due to limitations on how far divers could venture from a hole cut in the ice where the truck went through. He said finding bodies in the 34-mile-long lake can be difficult.
“Even right now, a recovery is going to be tough,” he said. “The water is murky, they’re real close to the river channel. I know of two people we haven’t been able to recover out there.”
He said a vehicle went through the ice last week as well, but that despite the danger, great fishing was luring anglers out on the lake.
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