Tysdal search ends in sad discovery

By: 
Alexis Barker, News Edtior

Submitted photo

The mobile command unit of Weston County Search and Rescue set up at 532 Beaver Creek Road while searching for Garrett Tysdal, who went missing while moving cattle. Unfortunately, Tysdal was found deceased after a two-day search.

 

A two-day search for Weston County native Garrett Tysdal, who went missing in the Beaver Creek area while moving cows earlier this month, ended in the way family and search crews dread. 

 

According to Scott Beachler, a member of Weston County Search and Rescue and the county coroner, the search that began on Friday, Oct. 6, continued over two days and ended on Oct. 8 with the grim discovery of Tysdal’s body. 

 

“The general thoughts amongst the [search and rescue] personnel was that by Sunday we were likely in the recovery phase of the search. This in no way diminished the search effort,” Beachler told the News Letter Journal. 

 

Confronted by temperatures dropping into the 20s the first night, large rugged terrain being searched, and no definite direction of travel from Tysdal’s last known location, the search crews worked through difficult conditions before discovering the remains via helicopter on Oct. 8.

 

When the search was completed, Beachler reported that 307-plus hours of search were undertaken by 14  search and rescue personnel. Other area personnel and volunteers (that signed in) completed a total of 506 hours of searching, with 51 individuals logging 218-plus hours on Saturday and 57 logging 288-plus hours on Sunday. 

 

According to Beachler, dispatch first contacted him, the on-call search and rescue team  member, on Oct. 6 at 19:41 (7:41 p.m) to put the crew on standby. By 19:54, Beachler said he was contacted to mobilize search and rescue to 532 Beaver Creek Road. 

 

“Garrett [Tysdal] had been moving cows with other family members earlier in the day and had become separated. They found his abandoned ATV later but didn’t find any sign of Garrett before nightfall. Some sub-contractors for the [Bureau of Land Management] had been the last to see Garrett, on his ATV, around 12:30,” Beachler said in his summary of the events. 

 

Following the mobilization, the first search and rescue crews arrived on scene at 21:10 (9:10 p.m.) with Weston County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Weston County Emergency Management already on scene. 

 

“Mobile Command was set up and the first field team was escorted to the Last Known Point (LKP) where Garrett’s ATV was located,” Beachler said in his summary. “WCSSR tracking personnel attempted sign cutting. This was hampered greatly by many tracks left by people searching prior to WCSSR arrival.”  

 

At this point, Beachler said, Pennington County Search and Rescue was called to assist in the search efforts. They then deployed ATVs from the South Dakota side of the Summit Ridge area while their canine team responded to the mobile command. 

 

A Weston County Search and Rescue drone also responded to the last known point, along with the canine team. 

 

“Multiple drone flights were conducted. The canine team followed a trail to the south for about 2.5 miles where it seemed to lose direction,” Beachler summarized. 

 

By 4 a.m. on Oct. 7, two local search and rescue personnel remained on site while the others returned home to rest and resupply, he said. 

 

By 7 a.m. personnel began to return to the scene where “loose grid teams made up of search and rescue personnel and volunteers on foot, horseback and ATV started working outward from the last known point.” Deputies, family and friends of Tysdal also checked neighboring outbuildings, Garrett’s residence and his family’s residences. 

 


 

 

On the afternoon of Oct. 7, the canine team returned from Pennington County along with teams from Campbell County. The Ranchester marshal also arrived on the scene.

 

The Pennington County team, according to Beachler, also brought a portable Starlink unit to provide internet and cell services to mobile command on scene — something he said was greatly appreciated. 

 

“A search helicopter from Warren Air Force Base arrived in the afternoon. They searched until evening and advised they could return in the morning if needed,” Beachler said in his summary. “Custer County SAR responded in the afternoon with a drone team.” 

 

Also responding that day were Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department personnel, who performed some close grid searches near Garrett’s pickup, about two miles from his last known location, that evening. Two Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens joined their efforts later in the evening. 

 

By 21:00 hours (9 p.m.), Beachler said, search and rescue personnel and volunteers left the scene to rest and resupply. A member of Custer County Search and Rescue kept night-watch detail at mobile command. 

 

“Around 7:00 WCSSR personnel and volunteers began arriving at the scene,” Beachler said of Oct. 8 in his summary. “Multiple SAR and volunteer teams on foot, horseback, and ATVs continued to widen the search area. The Ranchester Marshal canine team deployed as well.” 

 

By 9 a.m., he said, the helicopter had returned to the area and by noon the helicopter reported seeing a jacket about three-quarters of a mile to the west of the last known point. Beachler said in the summary that Tysdal was later seen by the helicopter about 150 yards away from the clothing.

 

“Ground crews were able to locate the body and requested the coroner around 12:30,” reported Beachler, who was able to verify the body was deceased and confirmed that it was Tysdal. At this time, the official cause of death has not been determined. Beachler said results of tests performed during the autopsy were still being processed as of press time. Tysdal’s obituary mentions a fall as the cause of death. The obituary also states that a memorial fund has been created for Weston County Search and Rescue. 

 

“WCSSR personnel express our condolences to Garrett’s family,” the summary concludes. “We are very thankful to our neighboring Emergency Service Personnel and the many friends and neighbors that volunteered their time and resources to help bring the search to its conclusion — to find Garrett. May God bless you for your efforts.” 

 

(Editor’s note: Tysdal’s family declined to comment for this story.)

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