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Daggett sheriff: Hypothermia may have claimed Wyoming man

Published September 11, 2012 10:44 am

Victim identified • 51-year-old Rock Springs, Wyo., man was bar band member.
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The Daggett County Sheriff's Office has identified a Wyoming man whose body was found near Manila last week.

Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen, in a joint statement Tuesday with Sweetwater County, Wyo., Sheriff Rich Haskell, said the victim was Gregory Johnson, 51, of Rock Springs, Wyo.

The manner of Johnson's death remained under investigation, though the sheriffs said it appeared he may have fallen into a canal and then succumbed to hypothermia after climbing out and trying to return to his vehicle and campsite, about nine miles southwest of Manila.

Overnight temperatures in the high desert region have dipped to near freezing in the past week, according to the National Weather Service.

Johnson was a member of a Rock Springs-based band that had been playing at the Wild Horse Saloon in Green River last week. He was last seen about 2 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, shortly after he and his fellow musicians wrapped up their set at the saloon.

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, a Utah hunter saw Johnson's Ford F-150 pickup parked near the mouth of Sol's Canyon. The next day, noticing the vehicle had not moved, he notified authorities.

Search and rescue volunteers from Daggett and Uintah counties, aided by search dogs, combed the area. Johnson's body was found Sept. 7, less than 100 yards from the Sheep Creek Canal.

There were no indications of foul play, though the official cause of death awaits results of an autopsy and forensic tests by the Utah Medical Examiner's Office.