Man Wearing Life Jacket Drowns in Cold, Fast Running Montana Creek
A 72-year-old man was pronounced dead after drowning in a cold and fast-moving Rock Creek on Thursday.
KGVO News spoke to Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson, who provided details of the fatal incident.
“It was about 1:47 yesterday (Thursday) afternoon when 9-1-1 dispatch got a call here that there was a capsized raft on Rock Creek,” said Sheriff Dunkerson. “It occurred west of Phillipsburg near the Hogback and apparently the raft capsized. There was a 72-year-old gentleman wearing a life jacket who was thrown from the raft.”
Dunkerson said this time of year such accidents can occur while Rock Creek is running fast and cold.
“It's my understanding that he hit a logjam,” he said. “Despite efforts of bystanders he was pronounced dead at the scene, after the resuscitation efforts by bystanders. Rock Creek is running pretty high right now. It is dangerous if you don’t know the creek well and it's easy to get caught up in a logjam, and when folks do we've had some drownings in the last few years as a result.”
KGVO also reached out to Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks who provided important safety information for those planning to recreate on the water.
“Some things you have to watch out for are all that hidden debris that can come up unexpectedly,” said Crowser. “You don't know it's there because it's underneath the surface of the water and it can catch a raft or catch a drift boat and flip you out. The conditions become pretty serious at that point because you're fighting the currents and the cold water temperatures and trying to get out of the water as soon as possible.”
Crowser said careful planning is vital to a successful float or fishing trip.
“It’s really, really important to pause and think about where you're going; if you should be going, and if the conditions are even acceptable for your experience level and for those that are going with you. Just really consider carefully if you do decide to go out this time of year while the temperatures are so cold on the water and the water itself is so high then you want to really be careful and scout ahead. Take it slowly. Of course, always wear a life jacket.”
As Sheriff Dunkerson noted, the drowning victim on Thursday was wearing a life jacket.