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Accident Description

An American Falls teen tragically died in a water accident this past weekend. According to her obituary, the victim was 18-year-old Taylor Paige Smith, a recent graduate of American Falls High School.  Elmore County sheriff’s officials on Wednesday released some additional details about the accident that occurred on the South Fork of the Boise River on July 13. They say a citizen reported the rafting accident shortly before 3:30 p.m.  “The citizen also reported a total of four individuals had been floating on inner tubes from the Featherville Bridge to the Johnson Bridge and encountered a log jam which spanned across the river and forced at least two of the individuals off their tubes into the swift, cold water,” according to a news release. “Three individuals were able to self-rescue to shore, with the victim last seen being pulled into the water by the swift current.”

Sheriff’s deputies, Pine Featherville EMS, Elmore County Search and Rescue, Air St. Luke’s, US Forest Service Fire and Law Enforcement, Idaho State Police and people who were camping in the area helped search for the victim, according to the news release. They eventually had to halt their efforts as night fell due to unsafe conditions, but sheriff’s officials said family members who remained on scene were able to locate the victim, who was trapped underwater, from the shoreline. The Elmore County Search and Rescue ground team and a sheriff’s deputy remained on scene overnight.

The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, Elmore County Search and Rescue, Pine Featherville EMS, and the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office worked together to recover the victim’s body the next day.  “The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim of this tragedy,” the news release stated. “Additionally, we would also like to express our gratitude to the many volunteers and emergency responders who assisted in the search and recovery of the victim.”

Smith’s funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ American Falls Stake Center at 111 Church Place in American Falls. According to her obituary, Smith enjoyed cheerleading and dancing, and she taught dance at a local studio. She also loved children and animals. “Her small body housed a big heart filled with empathy and charity for others,” according to her obituary. “She loved spending time with her family and friends and brought great joy to those who were blessed with her presence.”