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On June 21, 2020,
At 6:07pm the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Blue Ridge Fire District responded to the Blue Ridge Reservoir, also known as C.C. Cragin Reservoir, for a report of a swimmer who had gone under water near the boat ramp and never resurfaced.
A search of the immediate area was conducted using bystanders’ boats, but the subject was not located. Search operations were suspended as it began to get dark and a plan was developed for an underwater search on the morning of June 22.
On June 22 the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received assistance from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team and Tonto Rim Search and Rescue to conduct an underwater search. As part of the search a Search and Rescue dog trained in human remains detection in water was used to confirm the area to search. Divers searched an area indicated by the search dog and located the missing subject at approximately 11:30am.
The subject, 32-year-old Austin Smith of Payson, was recovered from the lake and transferred to the custody of the Coconino County Office of the Medical Examiner. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the assistance of the Blue Ridge Fire District, Gila County Sheriff’s Office, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, and the US Forest Service in resolving this incident.