Search and Rescue Operation for Missing Person – EKW State Park Closed

Missing person
Missing person(WALB)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:35 PM CST
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Casper, Wyo. (Press release) - The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a missing person last known to be in the area of Edness Kimball Wilkins (EKW) State Park. EKW State Park is currently closed to the public.

At approximately 4:20pm on Thursday, January 19th Natrona County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a suspicious report for an unattended vehicle at EKW State Park. Upon arrival, deputies located the vehicle and a dog on a leash roaming nearby. Deputies were unable to locate anyone in the area. This prompted further efforts to identify the owner of the vehicle and the dog. Natrona County Emergency Management personnel arrived on scene to launch a coordinated Search and Rescue (SAR) operation, including resources from the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division, Search and Rescue personnel, and the Natrona County Fire Protection District.

Information obtained through the preliminary investigation found the dog and the vehicle owner to be 60- year-old Bruce Wayne Campbell of Casper, Wyoming. Mr. Campbell told his friends and family that he was going walking at EKW State Park yesterday afternoon, an activity he frequentely did. His cell phone records indicate that he was last in that area yesterday afternoon, the cell phone is now turned off. At this point in our investigation, we do not believe foul play is involved.

The North Platte River in EKW State Park is mostly covered in ice, with layers of snow overtop of it. Some areas of the river have exposed water, and the water is flowing quickly both in those areas and underneath the ice. In the area of the river that Mr. Campbell’s vehicle and dog were located, deputies observed a void in the ice with an exposed area of water. A scenario that we are currently investigating is the possibility that Mr. Campbell fell through ice into the river.

Search and Rescue Operations are currently taking place at EKW State Park, we are not seeking volunteers at this time. We greatly appreciate the support from our community; however, it is crucial that those not involved in a first responder capacity avoid the area.

We are continuing to work closely with Mr. Campbell’s family during this difficult time for them. When the investigation allows and it is appropriate, an update will be provided to the public. Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park will be closed indefinitely to allow search efforts to continue. The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office is committed to preserving the peace of our county and ensuring it is a safe place to live, work, and visit.