Man wearing life jacket drowns in cold and runs fast Montana Creek
A 72-year-old man was pronounced dead after drowning in a cold, fast-moving Rock Creek on Thursday.
KGVO News spoke to Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson, who provided details about the fatal incident.
“It was about 1:47 a.m. yesterday (Thursday) afternoon when the 9-1-1 dispatch received a call here that there was an overturned raft on Rock Creek,” Sheriff Dunkerson said. “It happened west of Phillipsburg near the Hogback and apparently the raft capsized. There was a 72-year-old man wearing a life jacket who was ejected from the raft.
Dunkerson said at this time of year such accidents can happen when Rock Creek is running fast and cold.
“I understand he encountered a traffic jam,” he said. “Despite the efforts of bystanders, he was pronounced dead at the scene, after resuscitation efforts by bystanders. Rock Creek is running quite high right now. It’s dangerous if you don’t know the creek well and it’s easy to getting stuck in a traffic jam, and when people do, we’ve had drownings for the past few years.
KGVO also contacted Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks who provided important safety information for those considering recreating on the water.
“Some things you have to watch out for are all that hidden debris that can come up unexpectedly,” Crowser said. “You don’t know he’s there because he’s under the surface of the water and he can grab a raft or a drifting boat and knock you over. The conditions get pretty serious at that point because you fight the currents and cold water temperatures and try to get out of the water as soon as possible.
Crowser said careful planning is key to a successful float or fishing trip.
“It’s really, really important to pause and think about where you’re going; if you have to go, and if the conditions are even acceptable for your level of experience and for those who accompany you. Think carefully if you decide to go out at this time of year when the temperatures are so cold on the water and the water itself is so high, then you really want to be on the safe side and go ahead. Take it slowly. Of course, always wear a life jacket.
As Sheriff Dunkerson noted, Thursday’s drowning victim was wearing a life jacket.
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