Searchers may have found body

January 09, 2007 12:00 am

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By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate Staff Writer

Search and rescue teams found an object in the Smith River Monday that might be the body of Crescent City resident Chester Bolen.

Officials say there is a chance that the object they found is Bolen, 39, who fell into the river while he was fishing on Friday afternoon.

"We had found something," said Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson. But he is apprehensive to say that it is actually Bolen's body, or anything at all.

Wilson said that several officers using a side-scan sonar found an object that looked like it could be a body – or just a random piece of debris.

Del Norte County Sheriff's Department Commander Bill Steven, who was on the boat that detected the object, said that he and other officers were originally hoping to find the capsized boat using the sonar.

"We didn't get anything that resembled the boat," said Steven, "but we did get something that resembled a human body."

A dive team could not go into the river to identify the object because the current is too swift, according to Wilson.

"We're just waiting for the river to calm down enough so we can safely send our divers down," he said.

But he expects to send people down as early as tomorrow morning to determine if the object truly is a body.

Meanwhile, search crews still are actively looking for Bolen and his boat, both of which disappeared Friday.

Bolen, a weekend fishing guide, was fishing in a drift boat with Steven Restad, 39, of Eugene, Ore., when the anchor fell into the river. The anchor was caught and began to drag the boat under the current.

Restad swam to safety while Bolen was carried down the river.

Neither Bolen nor Restad were wearing flotation devices.