Valued Search and Rescue Volunteer Dies in Kayak Accident
Written by Andrew-Rossi on May 30, 2018
Park County and the community of Cody lost a valued resource, and many lost a good friend, when a 20-year veteran of the Park County Search and Rescue volunteer crew died while kayaking in Montana on Sunday.
65-year-old Ed Conning, an expert kayaker, was riding the river with friends when he became trapped beneath a submerged log in Rock Creek at 1:10 p.m., about a mile south of the Lion’s Club Camp near Red Lodge. His kayaking partner made it to shore and despite his efforts, was unable to free Conning by himself. With the assistance of another kayaker, they were able to free him from underneath the log, but were unable to get him to shore. His body was eventually recovered by members of the Carbon County Search and Rescue approximately a mile downstream, three hours after the incident occurred.
Park County Sheriff’s spokesman Lance Mathess pointed out that Ed was more than just an expert kayaker – he had been an integral part of the Search and Rescue team for the last 20 years. Ed was the leader of the swift-water rescue team and an experienced high-angle rope rescue technician, as well as serving as a mentor to new members and chairing the Training Committee.
Ed and his wife, Carmella, could be seen most weekends dancing at Cassie’s Supper Club in Cody, and have been teaching others to dance for many years. Sheriff Scott Steward commented that while the sheriff’s office and Search and Rescue are currently grieving the loss of their friend, the community has also lost a caring and compassionate public servant. He added, however, that there is some comfort in knowing that Ed passed away doing what he loved.