BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Press Release) – A 53-year-old woman was rescued last night from the South Fork of the Snake River near Fall Creek after jumping off her small inflatable kayak. Dispatch received a call just after 8 pm last night from a family member who located the kayak floating near Fall Creek and advised the woman on it had not been seen for over 30 minutes. Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies, Search and Rescue, Dive and Drone teams all responded along with Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho State Police, Swan Valley Fire, and the Idaho Falls Fire Ambulance stationed in Swan Valley. As first responders arrived, a Fish and Game Officer and an ISP Trooper who enlisted the help of a citizen flying a drone in the area located the victim approximately ½ mile upstream from Fall Creek. Deputies were able to recover the victim by boat and take her to an awaiting ambulance at the Spring Creek Boat Ramp where she was treated for mild hypothermia symptoms.
The victim told Deputies she had become separated from the rest of her party down a different channel after being caught in the current and unable to swim out of it. At that point, the victim jumped from the kayak to avoid three moose in the channel and floated downstream until she could get to the nearest bank of an island in the river. None of the parties floating together were wearing lifejackets or were familiar with the strong currents and dangers in the river.
Even though daytime temperatures have been in the 90’s as of late, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies remind everyone who recreates in the Snake River and other waterways throughout our county that water temperatures are still cold enough for hypothermia to quickly set in. Coupled with unpredictable currents and water flows, even experienced swimmers can be susceptible to hypothermia that quickly lessens the ability to self-rescue, especially when faced with strong currents and unseen hazards beneath the surface.
Whenever you recreate on the water remember these important things:
- Know the waters you plan to recreate in BEFORE you enter them, including temperatures, flows, hazards, current weather patterns etc.
- Utilize the appropriate watercraft, kayak, floatation device, etc. for the water you plan to enter
- Plan for emergencies, let people know where you are recreating and when you plan to exit the water
- Idaho law requires children 14 years or younger to wear a life jacket (vessels under 19ft), however our Deputies ALWAYS recommend the use of Lifejackets when a vessel is underway (includes non-powered boats, kayaks, and boards that are paddled, rowed, etc.)
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office is fortunate to have a great team of Deputies and Volunteer Search and Rescue personnel who respond to these types of emergencies with our First Responder partners from around the area. A great deal of success in their response can be directly attributed to those who take the time to be smart on the water and plan for safety. We’ve been fortunate in the more than 2 dozen water rescue responses over this summer to have minimal injuries, however many of those were very close calls that could have quickly turned fatal. You can help avoid tragedy by being smart on the water, plan for safety, and plan for emergencies.
The Idaho Parks and Recreation Department website is full of information on water safety, planning, and conditions along with Idaho’s Laws and Regulations for water recreation. You’ll find outdoor events, classes, and registration requirements for your vessel and outdoor recreation information from every corner of the state. Follow the Idaho Boating Program on social media and visit their website at www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.