Rocky Boy drowning victim identified

Rocky Boy police have identified the victim of a Sept. 19 drowning at Bonneau Dam on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation as Box Elder High School senior Shalako St. Marks, 18, son of Louis and Cindy (Randa) St. Marks, both of whom preceded him in death. Rocky Boy Police Department supervisory criminal investigator Grace Has Many Horses said St. Marks’ body was recovered between 6:30 and 7 a.m. Friday, one week after the drowning occurred. “I think it was just a case of an inexperienced swimmer who couldn’t get back to shore,” Has Many Horses said. She said a group apparently decided to go swimming at the reservoir due to the heat — the high temperature at the reservoir was about 100 degrees. Darin Hannum, principal at Box Elder High School, said the school faculty and staff has been very involved, including helping during the search last week. He said the school’s counselors and also representatives of Rocky Boy’s White Hope Center have been providing help and information for the students at the school last week and this week. He added that help has Been provided for the school faculty and staff, who also had a difficult time with the news of St. Mark’s drowning. He said the students at the school have dealt well with the drowning and seem to be doing better today. “Last week it was a little rough,” he added. He said the Box Elder staff did a phenomenal job in helping the students deal with the news. “They did what it took to be good for (the students,)” Hannum said. Has Many Horses said swimming can be dangerous at Bonneau Reservoir, located in Chouteau County at the southern part of the reservation. The steep drop at the reservoir — the depth five feet from shore is 25 feet, 40 feet 10 feet from shore and is 90 feet at the deepest part of the reservoir — probably was part of the cause of the drowning, she said. “It’s very deep there,” Has Many Horses said. Extensive interviews with witnesses, five other swimmers and two young children, lead her to conclusion that St. Marks simply couldn't get back to shore and sank, she said. The other swimmers were on the other side of the dam when St. Marks disappeared, and they searched for him for about 15 minutes before calling the Rocky Boy police. Has Many Horses said the search for St. Marks was extensive for the seven days before his body was found. More than 20 representatives of Rocky Boy agencies including the Rocky Boy Police Department, Ambulance Service, Water Resources Department, Forestry Department and Fish and Game Department, searched for the body. The Chouteau County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue Team also provided help, with 14 people assisting in the search, including divers. High Country Search and Rescue also provided a water cadaver dog to help in the search, Has Many Horses said. Many residents of Rocky Boy also came to help with the search and to provide food for the searchers, she said. “It was a big effort from the community … ,” Has Many Horses said. “It was a long ordeal for us, especially the family.” The reason the search took so long was due to conditions at the reservoir, both because of the depth and the extent of algae and vegetation, she said. Despite having high-powered diving lights, the searchers had low visibility. “The divers said they couldn’t see more than two feet in front of them,” Has Many Horses said.

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