POLSON - A Connecticut couple were among the victims when a Bigfork-area charter boat capsized Wednesday on Flathead Lake, the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.
Undersheriff Mike Sargeant identified the dead woman as Susan Piper, 29, of Bethel, Conn. An autopsy by the state Crime Lab in Missoula confirmed she drowned.
Divers continued to search the 300-feet-deep water off of Yellow Bay on the lake's east shore for the body of Kent Leroy Piper, 38, also of Bethel.
A licensed fishing guide and charter boat captain, Dusty Bagley of Bagley Guide Service, remained in Kalispell Regional Hospital on Friday, where he was being treated for hypothermia after being pulled from the water about 7:30 a.m. Thursday still clinging to the side of the capsized boat. The boat may have capsized some 14 hours earlier.
Bagley was responding well to treatment, but was still unable to give a full account of the circumstances of the incident, Sargeant said. He will be interviewed more extensively Monday morning.
Sargeant said divers and others would continue searching the area about one-half mile west of Yellow Bay for wreckage, boat debris and any sign of Kent Piper, but the lake is too deep in this area for divers to descend to the bottom.
The boat's insurer has asked the Lake County Sheriff's Office to bring a deep-water recovery team to the scene, perhaps as early as next week, to continue searching.
Susan Piper was found floating near the boat by search and rescue personnel Thursday morning. The boat had been reported overdue the previous evening.
The undersheriff said a more complete report on the circumstances surrounding the accident will be available Monday, after Bagley is interviewed and the boat is inspected. The 24-foot boat, still afloat with its bow above water and its stern submerged, was towed to Woods Bay for dry dock.
Bagley Guide Service has been a licensed fishing guide service on Flathead Lake for several years, according to the Montana Board of Outfitters and Guides in Helena. It advertises year-round fishing in covered boats, first-class service and guaranteed fish. It is chartered out of Bigfork, but Bagley's home-phone listing is in Somers.
Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org