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Crews find bodies of missing Utah brothers

Searchers look for two missing brothers on Strawberry Reservoir after their boat was found empty on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
Searchers look for two missing brothers on Strawberry Reservoir after their boat was found empty on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
Wasatch County Sheriff's Office

STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR — The bodies of two brothers missing at Strawberry Reservoir since July 18 have been found, authorities said.

Their exact cause of death remained unknown Sunday. They were located southwest of the island near the Ladders, according to the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office.

"Overall I really think it comes down to this. These brothers, they loved each other and they were helping each other. There was some kind of an accident that occurred on the water while they were fishing, and they were working to help each other at the time when they both succumbed," said Wasatch County Sheriff Jared Rigby.

Their bodies were found after several teams throughout the state, some using sonar technology, spent 10 days searching.

On July 18, searchers found the empty boat of James "Jim" Gardiner, 70, of Salem, and Mark Gardiner, 61, of Pleasant Grove. The boat's motor was still running and it appeared to have drifted to shore on its own, and there was a fish on one of the men's lines.

"There likely was not a criminal element here," Rigby said.

The Gardiner family thanked the volunteer searchers for the many hours spent trying to find the men, as well as people who donated food and other resources to help the search and rescue crews keep working. They said though the loss is difficult, learning that the brothers' bodies were found brought them peace and closure.

Family members remembered the men as having "good hearts" and a love for fishing.