4-year old drowns in Green River canoe capsizing
Two adults charged with criminally negligent homicide
by Sublette County Sheriff’s Office media release
July 5, 2011
On Saturday, July 2nd at approximately 2:15 pm the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a welfare check on the lower Green River between Big Piney and LaBarge. The reporting party stated that two adult males were preparing to launch a canoe into the river with themselves and three small children on board. The caller was concerned over the fact that the river was running extremely high and fast, the caller also strongly expressed this concern to the boaters before they launched. Sublette County deputies immediately went en route to the scene. A short time later the reporting party called the SCSO to state the canoe had capsized and the occupants were in the water.
Sublette County Search and Rescue was activated and responded with a swift water rescue team as well as the short-haul helicopter contracted to Sublette County for the summer season. Also responding were Big Piney EMS, Big Piney Fire, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, LaBarge Police Department, LaBarge Fire Department and Lincoln County Search and Rescue.
Both of the adults and two of the children were spotted from the air and rescued through a combination of air and water resources. The two adults and two male children (ages 1-½ and 8) were transported safely to the Big Piney/Marbleton clinic. The body of the third child, a four-year old boy, was found further downstream. Despite extensive attempts at resuscitation while en route, the child was pronounced deceased at the clinic. Preliminary autopsy reports confirm the cause of death as drowning.
The adults were identified as 26-year old Matthew Levi Cooper of Diamondville and 48-year old Franklin Donald Parks of Kemmerer. Both men were arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide under Wyoming Statute 6-2-107. The subjects are currently out on bond.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating the incident for possible alcohol involvement and violations of boating regulations. The Sublette County Attorney’s Office is also reviewing the case.
Stephen Smith, Public Information Officer
Authority: Sheriff Dave Lankford
Editor’s Note: The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office said at this time they are not releasing the name of the victim.