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Sheriff’s Office Warns Boaters to Stay Out of the Clark Fork

Clark Fork photo

After a boater went missing last weekend on the Clark Fork River between Clinton and Turah, sheriff’s office officials are asking boaters to think twice before tackling the still swollen and fast moving river.

Public Information Officer Brenda Bassett said it was dangerous for even the highly trained Search and Rescue personnel to navigate the river, and it is far more dangerous to the casual boater.

“When we have Search and Rescue folks who have gone through hours and hours of training for swift water rescue and they’re saying it’s not safe for them to be in the water, it’s certainly not safe for people who maybe are inexperienced in being on the rivers right now,” said Bassett. “Even if you think you’re familiar with the area, things have moved so much and carried so far that the waters are not familiar to anyone at this point.”

Bassett pointed out that the flooding has brought tons of material into the river that pose a severe hazard to anyone on the water.

“There are a lot of trees and logs that have been carried downriver, but also those eroded banks have those tree knots underneath, so there are so many things that can get snagged underneath, and it presents a really horrible situation for anyone to get under there and not find a way out,” she said. “From the time the search started on Saturday afternoon to the time that they ended on Sunday, the water had increased by approximately 800 cubic feet per second, and that’s a lot of water. The banks have eroded.”

Bassett also pointed out that neither man in the drift boat was wearing a life jacket when the boat capsized.

The missing man is in his 70’s.

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