The bodies of two adult brothers who have been missing since July 18 were found Sunday at Strawberry Reservoir in Wasatch County, according to the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office.
Through the combined effort of many teams, authorities and volunteers over the last 11 days, the search for Jim Gardiner, of Salem, and Mark Gardiner, of Pleasant Grove, came to an end at about 7 p.m. Sunday. Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby said at a press conference that they do not yet know conclusively what happened to the brothers, but he believes it was an accident and the men died while working to help each other in the water.
Rigby said the search involved a technical process including SONAR to identify objects in the water and ROVs to physically reach specific items in the reservoir.
The search began on July 18 at about 2:30 p.m. after an employee of the state reported seeing an empty, drifting boat on the water while driving by on Highway 40. Teams responded and confirmed that there was no one occupying the boat.
Mike Gardiner, the younger brother of Jim and Mark Gardiner, represented the Gardiner family at the press conference. He started by thanking all of the people involved in finding his brothers’ bodies.
“We’d like to thank ... the community that has been praying for us. We felt that strength,” Mike Gardiner said. “We’ve also like to thank people who have donated food and resources, because it has helped us immensely.”
Mike Gardiner said he felt happy and at peace when he found out the bodies had been discovered.
“It’s tough losing family members, of course, but (we felt) closure,” Mike Gardiner said. “Things are going to be OK.”
He said fishing was his brothers’ passion, and that the passion runs in the family.
“It’s just a matter of the next step, being able to now spend the time to really mourn,” Mike Gardiner said. “Remembering all the good things, the memories that we have. I know they’ll want us to move forward, to be happy.”