A 23-year-old kayak guide, Timothy Hayden Ryan Conant from Salt Lake City, Utah, died while attempting to rescue a client who capsized on Wednesday, June 14. The incident occurred in the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake. The kayaking group consisted of nine clients and three guides.
After receiving a call through the park’s dispatch center, rangers responded to the scene in a patrol boat and found Mr. Conant in the water. They brought him on board and immediately started CPR while in route back to the dock. CPR continued as Mr. Conant was transported to the helipad at Grant Village via ambulance (approximately ½-mile from the dock). A Life Flight landed to assist, but Mr. Conant was pronounced dead before taking off.
The client, who Mr. Conant attempted to save, was rescued by other guides in the group and brought to shore before rangers arrived on scene to help Mr. Conant. The client was transported to the park clinic and treated for hypothermia. The incident is still under investigation.
“Our hearts are with the Conant family after this terrible loss,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk.
Mr. Conant worked as a guide for Oars, a company based out of Angel Camp, California. Oars has offered non-motorized boat tours in Yellowstone under a permit since 1996. This was Mr. Conant’s first season working for Oars as a guide.
Since 1894, there have been 41 deaths in Yellowstone Lake. The most recent was in 1997 when two people died while canoeing.
With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States that is above 7,000 feet. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. The average year-round temperature of the lake is 43F. Survival time is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes in water of this temperature.