Accident Database

Report ID# 114871

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Body of Cottonwood man found in Salmon River

Lewiston, ID Tribune

 Jun 3, 2021

COTTONWOOD -- The body of a 31-year-old Cottonwood man who drowned in a boating accident in the Salmon River near Pine Bar Recreation Area May 22 was recovered late Wednesday.  Three searchers in jet boats located the body of David Spencer about 19 miles downriver from where the boating accident happened at a location called Demon’s Drop, Idaho County Chief Deputy Brian Hewson said.

“There’s just not a lot of people there,” in that area, Hewson said today. “This was such a stroke of luck. We’re very fortunate.”

Spencer had been fishing with his brother, Peter, in a 16-foot Bassmaster boat when the boat engine suddenly quit and the craft capsized immediately. Peter Spencer made it to shore but David Spencer was swept away in the current.

More than 70 searchers combed the area by foot, boat and in the air but were unable to spot Spencer’s body. Hewson said the three people who found Spencer’s body had continued to search the river every day.  “These guys are just a terrific local resource,” Hewson said, adding that the men did not want recognition. “They were searching relentlessly for David.”

Hewson pointed out that the rivers in the area can be dangerous and the Salmon River is especially risky for recreationists who are not familiar with its unpredictability.

Spencer and his wife have seven children. Following the accident a GoFundMe account was created that raised more than $29,000 in one day to pay for the Spencers’ children’s education and day-to-day living expenses.

Hewson said finding Spencer’s body “helps a little bit in adding closure for the family.” He also wanted to thank all those who took part in the search. “This is sad but we thank everybody involved and add our condolences to the family,” Hewson said.

On May 22, 2021 at approximately 1135 hrs, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a boating accident that occurred near Demons Drop Rapids, upstream of Pine Bar Recreation Area, on the Salmon River near Cottonwood. The reporting party advised the Sheriff’s Office that David Andrew Spencer, 31 years old, was unaccounted for after the accident. David was last seen wearing all black clothing. David was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time of the accident.
At this time, David is still unaccounted for. The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, Cottonwood PD, & Life Flight, family, & volunteers conducted an initial search of the area today and did not find David.
Tomorrow, May 23rd, Idaho County Sheriff, Cottonwood Police, Idaho County Sheriff’s Posse, Idaho Fish & Game, Grangeville Mountain Rescue Unit, multiple volunteers with Jet Boats, & a volunteer with a small aircraft will be conducting a visual search of the area by foot, water, & air in hopes of finding David. If you have contact with David, or more information that will be beneficial to the search efforts, please do not hesitate to call the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office dispatch at 208-983-1100 ext. 0, or 911.

Main search called off for man missing in Salmon River

Idaho Statesman: May 24, 2021

GRANGEVILLE — Officials who have been searching for a Cottonwood man missing since a boating accident on the Salmon River Saturday are now considering “a worst-case scenario,” Idaho County Chief Deputy Brian Hewson said Monday.

More than 70 people from multiple agencies and other volunteers scoured the river, banks and hillsides about 2 miles upstream from the Pine Bar Recreation Area on the Salmon River looking for David Spencer, 31. Spencer had been in a 16-foot Bass Master boat fishing with his brother, Peter, Saturday, when the boat flipped in the water and sank immediately, Hewson said. Peter Spencer made it to shore but David Spencer has not been seen since. He was wearing black clothing but was not wearing a life jacket, the sheriff’s office reported.

Hewson said the main search was called off Sunday night after two days of intensive search that included foot patrols, search dog teams, jet boats, fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter. Hewson said the hillside bordering the river also was searched in case Spencer had made it out of the water and walked up to safety. But searchers have had no luck, he said.

“It’s now, we’re kind of down to the worst-case scenario and the family realizes that,” Hewson said. “I feel for the family. I pray for the family, they’re wonderful, beautiful people.” Hewson said Spencer and his wife, Danielle, have seven children.

“We’re just to the stage of road patrols where we’ll be watching the water daily, hoping, pushing toward recovery now,” Hewson added. When the accident happened, Hewson said, the river was running about 24,000 cubic feet per second. It has dropped in the past two days about 1,000 cubic feet.

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