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Bradley Gardner still missing

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June 14, 2011
Updated: 7:01 a.m.

Sgt. Matt Daugherty pulls up a topo
map of Lone Mountain on his computer,
and it’s covered in a thick maze
of red lines from Lone Lake Cirque to
Chippewa Ridge.
“This is the area the search teams
covered this weekend,” Daugherty
said, pointing at the red lines. “We’ve
covered a lot of ground, but on other
parts of the mountain, conditions still
need to get better before we can do any
further search.” Some areas still have a
lot of deep snow.
The search for Brad Gardner continued
July 5, 9 and 10, using a total of 10 dog
teams from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho
and Utah, over 40 volunteers of the
Gallatin and Madison County Sheriff
Offices Search and Rescue, and a fixed
wing plane.
24-year-old Gardner was last seen
Wednesday, March 9 when he told
friends he planned to ski alone in
the Chippewa Ridge area of Lone
Mountain. An intense search
involving air and ground resources
from Gallatin and Madison County’s
Search and Rescue teams combed
the area in and around the ski area,
but failed to turn up any evidence of
Gardner’s whereabouts.
The search was suspended on March
28 due to weather conditions. Snow
had continued to accumulate, and
many areas could not be searched and
still allow for the safety of the search
teams. Since that time, limited air and
ground searches were conducted, but
late spring storms and a deep snowpack
made it difficult work. The backcountry
terrain surrounding Lone Mountain
is a network of thick forests and
complex drainages.
“The search this weekend was designed
to add the expertise of the dog
teams to enhance search capabilities.
Unfortunately, the search teams were
not able to uncover additional information
on Mr. Gardner,” stated Incident
Commander Deputy Ian Parker.
The search has covered and cleared
large areas near Lone Mountain, but
more remains to be checked. The
search will continue, but no specific
search date is scheduled.
“We intend to continue the search
until Brad is found. We will not give
up, in order to bring closure to the
family,” stated Gallatin County Sheriff
Jim Cashell.
Sgt. Daugherty remembers a search
in Big Sky in 1995 where a woman
went missing during a winter snowstorm
and wasn’t found until several
months later.
The sheriff’s office tries to “keep tabs
on any missing person, or get info
from the public [and] work any leads…
Everything we have thus far is showing
us that he’s up in that area of Lone
Mountain,” Daugherty said.
The search has been a pretty significant
effort, Daugherty said. “A lot of man
hours and resources, and a lot of volunteer
time, as well.”
It’s also been a significant cost, Daugherty
said, though the exact amount
isn’t known. A mill levy through each
county pays into search and rescue
funds, but without the “hundreds of
hours of volunteer time, the search
wouldn’t be possible.
“We have a fantastic search and rescue
team.” Daugherty said. “We’re very
fortunate to have such a large, experienced
group of individuals in many
different disciplines.”
Brad’s father, Ed, has been in Big Sky
since his son disappeared. He has
recently spent time searching in Lone
Lake Cirque and near the top of the
Dakota Lift.
“There was still a lot of deep snow at
the top of the Dakota Lift,” he said.
“It was clear why [the search teams] couldn’t have done anything until
“We may need to get support from private
parties so we can go up into certain
areas regularly,” Ed said.

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