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Search continues for missing man at Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park (June 16, 2023)
sluice boxes state park map.jpg
Great Falls man drowns in Sluice Boxes
Great Falls man drowns in Sluice Boxes
Posted at 6:29 AM, Jun 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-17 08:29:24-04

The search continues for 59-year old Ernest Mac Murray in and around Sluice Boxes State Park.

He and 21-year old Santiago Nadeau, both from Canada, went into Belt Creek on May 22, 2023, to rescue a dog, but both men disappeared in the water and were reportedly swept away.

Nadeau's body was recovered later that day, but Mac Murray has not yet been found.

Dogs and a boat were brought in to the park on Friday, June 16, in a renewed effort to find him. The dogs were being used to search the park's trails while the boat was being used to search the creek.

A Cascade County Sheriff's Office pickup truck with a trailer attached carrying a UTV was parked at the lower parking lot of the park. At the upper parking lot, several Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks pickup trucks could be seen.

The search began at around 10 a.m. and as of early afternoon there was no word if Mac Murray had been found.

Mac Murray's sister Ethel shared the following information on June 7th:

On May 21st, Ernie was visiting Sluice Boxes State Park in Montana with his daughter Allison and her boyfriend when the family dog went into the river. Allison's boyfriend Santiago jumped in to save the dog and my brother jumped in to the river to rescue Santi. The raging river pulled them both away. Santi drowned and was found the next day but they still have not found my brother Ernie. We are thankful for Cascade County Search and Rescue, Great Falls Police Dept, and Malmstrom Air Force Base for their efforts to find Ernie. The search continues but we know we have lost my brother.

A GoFundMe has been created to help the family; click here if you would like to donate.


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(MAY 22) One person has died and another is missing after a Sunday incident in Sluice Boxes State Park.

The area is located about 12 miles south of Belt just west of U.S. Highway 89 between Armington Junction and Monarch.

According to Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter, a person called 911 at about 2:45 p.m. stating that two men went into Belt Creek to rescue a dog, and then disappeared into the water and were swept away.

Search and rescue personnel recovered the body of 21-year old Santiago Nadeau, but 59-year old Ernest Mac Murray is still missing. Both men are from Canada.

Sheriff Slaughter noted that neither man was believed to wearing a life-vest.

The search for Mac Murray continues. Sheriff Slaughter said he was wearing a gray T-shirt and beige colored shorts.

Sheriff Slaughter noted, “These streams and rivers right now are extremely dangerous. This is not a time to be anywhere near or around water. We had a lot of snow, so the rivers are very high and moving very quick."

Sluice Boxes State Park map.jpg
Sluice Boxes State Park in Cascade County