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Boat stranded in Lucky Peak Reservoir in 2021, recovered, but not before thieves ransacked it

The boat got stuck as water levels came down quickly because of drought conditions. While stuck for months, thieves stole almost everything out of it.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — For months, deep in the distance at Lucky Peak Reservoir, sat a lonely boat. The blue and white Bayliner boat sat, stranded, for nearly 9-months. Some Idahoans traveling by Lucky Peak have seen it and the first question that comes to mind is: how did it get stuck there? Owner Gene Saldana explains.

"So last year we came out here and we were camping across the way. And so, we didn't even see the sign about them lowering water until we heard about it, they said we're going to release four feet a day," Saldana said.

Last August, water levels at Lucky Peak dropped because of ongoing drought conditions. The weather got hot, and agriculture operations needed the water. So, water levels dropped to a spot usually seen later in the year, think October and November. Saldana thought the boat would be okay as they headed to bed one night.

"Well, we woke up around noon, we came out and my boat was not quite submerged. It was like we still had a little bit, so we're trying to work it out," Saldana said.

At that same time, several other boats were in metaphorical deep water as the actual water levels dropped. Owners rushed to get their boats, Saldana's didn't get saved. 

"I was feeling kind of hopeless, you know, because, my boat was stranded, and I was trying to cry out for help for people to come down and help pull it out. Everybody was exhausted from pulling boats out," Saldana said.

Bad luck for Saldana, the only option was to wait, and wait, and wait for water levels to get deep enough to float the boat out. Finally, today, the boat is free and back on solid ground, in an intentional way, as water levels slowly creep up. 

However, Saldana was warned by a friend who saw the boat before him.

"'There's some stuff missing. Just be prepared.' So, I said, ok, so we pull up and sure enough," Saldana said.

We aren't talking about damage done by the weather, or water that flooded in. This damage is human-caused.

"Somebody came and apparently they stripped all my seats. They took my stereo, my fish finder. They just kind of stripped all my boat. It's pretty sad, you know, for the circumstances that I've already been in already, that, you know, for them to just come in and just take this have at it with my stuff. You know, it's pretty frustrating for sure," Saldana said.

Saldana's bad luck turned into bad choices made by others.

"Yeah, for sure. I was worried about the weather, I show up and the weather's not really what did it. The people did. The people came in and just ransacked my boat and had just pretty much got whatever they wanted," Saldana said.

Saldana says it stings even more thinking about the regular family outings that are now off the agenda, replacing everything taken will take time.

"We go out, we go barbecue, and I get all my family together. So this boat has been around for a long time, you know, within our family," Saldana said.

Saldana expected the weather to have an impact on his boat, but the human aspect genuinely surprised him.

"To see this happen it's kind of like, man, this is not what we do here. Here in Boise, everybody is friendly, everybody's nice. you know," Saldana said.

The hope, though, is that new family memories will be created on this boat in years to come. Gene Saldana plans on getting it back together, piece by piece.

"Yes, yes, yes, yes. Hopefully, sometime during the summer, I'm going to manage a way and see if I find something like seats on Craigslist or something,” Saldana said.

Saldana has started a campaign to see if anyone knows who stole from his boat and to get it fixed up. You can connect with Gene Saldana and his efforts by clicking here.

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