EMMETT, Idaho — A man is still missing after falling out of his raft on the Payette River in Emmett Saturday near the Washington Street bridge, according to the Gem County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheriff’s department has been out searching for 21-year-old Everette Jackson since around 8 p.m. His family, who traveled all the way from Louisiana, said he went tubing on the river with his girlfriend and was swept by a current after they missed their exit from the river.
“When it’s your family member, no one is going to look for him, like you would look for him,” his niece Breon Lyons said.
His family said to know him, was to love him and described him as the “sweetest person” and one of life's biggest blessings.
“It hits different when it’s your family member,” his sister Kenya Lyons said.
His family had to wait until Monday to fly out to Boise due to bad weather in the Treasure Valley. Once the weather cleared out, they took the next flight out and landed in Idaho around 1 a.m. Tuesday.
“We were so far away in Louisiana to where we couldn’t help him. We weren’t there to help him,” Breon said.
With high flows and murky water, the sheriff’s department said it’s hard to see anything in the river, but the search crew is using jet boats, drones and a helicopter to search.
“I've got two river boats out on the river searching the banks as we speak,” Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said. "We’ve got a couple of spotters who are looking up and down the bank as well."
Everette’s family isn’t giving up hope and has spent the day walking up and down the riverbanks in Emmett — after landing in Idaho less than 24 hours ago.
“We’ve been out here since about 8:30 a.m. just patrolling the area, checking the river and just calling out for his name just trying to pray to god to just show us a sign,” his niece added.
One of his sisters Meagan Jackson says she was given a sign this morning while searching.
“I was standing by the river and I said ‘baby boy please give me any sign’ and I walked the to rocks after I finished praying, and feathers fell out of the tree to the ground, but I saw no bird. I’m holding onto that,” she said.
The family started a GoFundMe to help out with travel costs.
“He's coming home, we’re not stopping," they said. "There's no, 'OK I've got to leave.' We are going to find him and we are taking him home. That's it.
The Gem County Sheriff’s Department is urging the public to stay away from the river while they continue this search. They warn that the rapid flow high water level and cold water temperatures present life-threatening conditions and it's best to stay clear of the area.