River Continues to Thwart Searchers’ Efforts to Recover Van and Two Occupants Swallowed Last Month

Nearly a month ago, on December 5, a vehicle went off Hwy 199 into the Smith River near Hiouchi. Though rescuers were able to see the vehicle, according to a California Highway Patrol press release, they were “unable to access the vehicle involved in this collision due to the high water, location, and extreme current of the river.”

Today, searchers accessed the area where the vehicle had been originally located. Though searchers attempted to find the vehicle and its two missing occupants, they were unable to do so.



  • Where are the body’s, and why wasn’t any one else involved, man power to get them out.

  • are the two missing persons on a missing persons list ?

  • The Smith River in that area is very dangerous for recovery, as sad as it may be.

  • Best to wait for water to go down.
    Would have needed a very large heavy duty tow truck and grappling hooks on chains. Very dangerous recovery.

    • I don’t think there is a tow truck large enough or a cable long enough for the job.

      • I drove a Heavy Duty Recovery Vehicle For too many years. Pulled many vehicles out of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. Much faster, deeper, and wider than the Smith during Spring run-off.

  • The Smith is not sediment impacted like the Eel system, so the pools in the river are very deep year round. That river comes up very quickly during rains and has probably tumbled that van into a deep spot. Fortunately the river is heavily fished all winter, both from the bank and drift boats, so hopefully some fisherman will help them spot the van and recover the victims.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      Yes, part of what makes the Smith River so Eye-watering magnificent is its watershed of almost solid rock. Many deep holes unlike the massively eroded Eel and others. Sadly, those big deep holes and high water tend to flush debris and bodies right out to the ocean. We’ll see. Hope for the best, such as it is.

      • First condolences for the families. Maybe there will be some good that will come from it.
        Cancer SUCKS!
        I have been following my beloved Smith since the accident
        below is the graph for that period of time. We usually used cfs at Jed Smith/ 3000cfs to 5000 cfs was optimum fun time every where on the Smith. Over that it is just big volume washed out.

      • The car went in to the river on the 12/07/14. After that 20 feet of water went over the car lifting it and depositing it into the flume of water. I do not think it would stay put in a hole The Oregon Hole is not a keeper as Outburst has said.

        • Hear the pic above the Oregon Hole. With 20 feet you can see all the rock are underwater. This pic is probable around 3200cfs. They were about 8 mile up stream, but high flows would be 5 minutes away. I will be following it until they are found.

  • that was my nephew in that accident. My question is…If it had a been a big person, i.e., governor, congressman city councilmen, would the count recovered the bodies????? So many questions and apparently no answers. RIP Steve.

    • The rescuers really risked it all going for them. They did not know if a river flash flood would come upon them rushing them away. A plus work guys . Thank You
      Mrs. Miley were are so sorry for your loss. I think they will show up. RIP

  • If the men in the van were my relatives. There would have been nothing that would have stood in my way of removing the bodies from the waters. Be respectful, and rescue the bodies.. how would you feel? The tire and wheel were out of the water…chains and cables with snatch block..big rig tow truck… this is 2016…get her done… now you don’t know where it is…. may God help you if my mom was left in the water… my pl and pd limit is 300/600… that should cover the cost. .. hell logging helicopters

  • I agree. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Which congressional district is the van located in? A call to the congressman’s office might speed up the recovery.

    Sorry for the loss of your nephew Miss Miley.

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