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Boise County Sheriff urges caution near rivers ahead of warm weekend

Posted at 3:18 PM, Jun 06, 2024

HORSESHOE BEND, Idaho — Three people have drowned in the Payette River system since the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and the river will be running even higher this weekend.

On Friday, May 24 a car crashed into the Main Payette south of Banks, killing a Boise man. That same day another man got swept away in the the South Fork of the Payette River near the Alder Creek Bridge. Authorities were able to recover both bodies.

Looking down on the bridge and the Main Payette in Horseshoe Bend

A week later two men in their twenties were recreating in a popular spot at a bridge in Horseshoe Bend on the Main Payette. Idaho rivers have a lot of flow and that brings swift currents and a strong undertow.

"The one that did make it out of the river told us how he got swept under and was underwater for some time before he was able to resurface," said Boise County Sheriff Scott Turner. "The river kind of spit him out downstream."

The Boise County Sheriff's Office has a lot of area to cover in this unique county

24-year-old Daniel Frandson never resurfaced and the Boise County Sheriff's Office continues to search for the missing man. They are using drones and a helicopter. They have divers standing by, but they will have to wait until water levels recede. If seen, police ask that you do not attempt to recover and immediately call the Boise County Sheriff's Office.

A rain on snow event caused Idaho rivers to rise this week as several rivers reached their peak on Tuesday. The water has dropped a little and leveled off, but people need to be aware that the rivers are running fast and cold ahead of a warm weekend.

The Main Payette hit its highest flow of the year on Tuesday

"People just need to understand that the conditions are dangerous," said Turner. "People need to recreate wisely and really evaluate the conditions before they choose to jump in the river."

The U.S. Coast Guard just released their statistics for 2023 and there were 564 deaths in recreational boating incidents. Alcohol was the leading factor accounting for 79 deaths. Drowning can be attributed to 75 percent of the deaths and in those 87 percent of the people that died were not wearing life jackets.

A life jacket can make all the difference in a tough scenario

All three victims in the Payette River system were not wearing life jackets. (Although the car accident is obviously a different scenario) However, the tragedy at the bridge might have turned out different if the two men did have life jackets.

"In that situation, a life jacket would have definitely at least kept them on the surface on the water," said Turner.

Dropping Howard's Plunge

These incidents stretch the already thin Boise County Sheriff's Office to the limit. It would be a good idea to avoid the river this weekend, but if you really want to get on the river and don't have a lot of experience, go with one of the raft guides. We saw Bear Valley Rafting safely taking people down Howard's Plunge on the Cabarton section of the North Fork of the Payette on Wednesday.

The same holds true for the Boise River where flows also increased this week. Please don't float the river this weekend without a life jacket.