BILLINGS – The man who died while kayaking on Rock Creek in Carbon County was a 20-year veteran of Park County Search and Rescue.
Edward Conning, 66, of Cody, Wyoming was identified as the kayaker that drowned after his kayak hit a fallen tree on Rock Creek south of Red Lodge on Sunday afternoon.
According to Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Koontz, Conning was an experienced kayaker around the age of 65.
He was kayaking around 10 miles south of Red Lodge when he hit some trouble and his kayak over turned.
Conning was stuck under the kayak for more than ten minutes, and that is where he is believed to have drowned. He then traveled down the river until getting caught on a tree submerged in the river.
He was a valued member of Park County Search and Rescue, serving citizens and visitors as a volunteer since 1997. He was leader of the swift-water rescue team and an experienced high-angle rope rescue technician. He served as a mentor to new SAR members and chaired the Training Committee.
Sheriff Scott Steward commented that Conning was a “water dog” and could always be found in or near the water.
“We here at the sheriff’s office and Search and Rescue are currently grieving the loss of our friend. But the community has also lost a caring and compassionate public servant. However, there is some comfort for all of us in knowing that Ed passed away doing what he loved,” he said.
Reporting by Zoe Zandora for MTN News