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Accident Description


Flathead Search and Rescue looking for man in Flathead River

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By: Sean Wells

Posted at Jun 23, 2020

COLUMBIA FALLS — Flathead County Search and Rescue are searching for a missing man after his raft flipped Tuesday afternoon on the Flathead River near Columbia Falls. Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino told MTN News four people were on the raft when it flipped including two children.

Heino said the incident occurred around 3:30 p.m. after the raft hit a large rock in the river. An adult female and two children were able to safely rejoin the raft while an adult male is still missing.

Heino said search crews are asking Flathead Valley residents to avoid recreating in the river near Columbia Falls as the search continues into the night. “If they can avoid using the areas from House of Mystery Boat Launch down to Pressentine Bar at this point, we have several boats in the water of course, and we do also have an aircraft in the area,” said Sheriff Heino.

Heino said North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Department, and Fish Wildlife and Parks are assisting in the search.

APPARENTLY NO PFD'S WERE USED

River Description: "Below Blakenship Bridge, depending on river flows, several small rapids that have large waves exist that can pose problems for canoes. These small rapids can be bypassed, but the fast current can make it difficult to avoid them. Beyond these rapids, other than a few small riffles and some whirlpools that form where the various forks in the river converge, nothing should give a floater of any skill level problems on the Flathead River."

"There are no sketchy sections in this area. But hazards still exist and they hit a rock that I know well. 100 feet of river to safely pass around it. I think they just weren’t paying attention or thought let’s hit that weird wave in the river. the currents are strong plus the water temp is 50 at the warmest.”