Firefighters locate lost elderly couple in St. Joe wildfire area

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Image courtesy of Google Maps/ The marker indicates the location of Bath Tub Mountain in relation to Avery, Idaho.

WALLACE­— A multi-agency search and rescue operation conducted in the St. Joe River area of Shoshone County yielded the retrieval of an injured male and deceased female who were stranded in the woods.

The Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) reports that on Aug. 8 at approximately 1 p.m., dispatch received a call stating that a male subject was in need of medical attention and extraction from a remote location near Bath Tub Mountain.

Woodland firefighters from the Missoula Ranger District were able to locate the injured male, identified as 79- year old Walter L. Bayes of Emmett, Idaho, while responding to the Buck Creek wildfire that is active in that area.

Upon his rescue, W. Bayes advised the firefighters that his wife, 74- year old Virgina Bayes also of Emmett, Idaho, was still missing and believed to be in the area.

Due to the remoteness of the area and his condition, W. Bayes was air lifted out by Two Bear Air and transported to Historic Red Ives Ranger Station where he refused further medical treatment.

Once W. Bayes had been removed from the fire area, Missoula and St. Joe River District fire crews assisted Shoshone County Search and Rescue teams with searching for V. Bayes.

While these crews searched on the ground while battling the wildfire, Two Bear Air conducted a search of the area from the skies.

After some time, ground crews were able to locate V. Bayes, who unfortunately was deceased.

Through a coordinated effort between Two Bear Air and fire crews, V. Bayes’ body was air lifted to a safe landing zone to meet with the Benewah County Medical Examiner.

Jeremy Groves, SCSO Captain, said in a news release regarding the incident that, “due to the efforts of the fire fighters from St. Joe Ranger District, Missoula Ranger District, and Two Bear Air, both found parties were located and extracted from the remote and extremely tough terrain without incident.”

The investigation of V. Bayes death is still being investigated by SCSO and the cause of the wildfire is also under investigation by the United States Forest Service.

As of Aug. 10, fire crews from St. Joe and Missoula Ranger Districts are fighting the Buck Creek wildfire which is approximately 40 acres in size and began on Aug. 7 at approximately 6:41 p.m.

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