Search for drowning victim scaled back
Published at | Updated at
FREMONT COUNTY — Although the formal search for a Malad man who drowned in the Teton River has been called off, crews continue to check the river for any sign of Calvin Willie.
The 21-year-old Brigham Young University-Idaho student was floating with a group of friends Friday near Monkey Rock when Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says his body became caught near a dam where the rapids are particularly strong.
“We’ve done all we can searching the river at this point but we are checking every day and hoping his body will surface,” Humphries tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We had one of our deputies in an airplane this morning going up and down the river. A few volunteers have brought their drones up to help check too.”
Humphries says there’s a 50/50 chance that Willie’s body could be caught in the strong current at the dam.
“There are lots of large boulders that he could be up against. There’s no way to shut the water off and the amount of water going over the dam is very, very high,” Humphries says.
Jean-Luc Lazoore, a BYU-Idaho sophomore, was one of the 10 others floating with Willie. He told the BYU-Idaho Scroll that the river appeared safe and calm the entire way until they saw the diversion dam.
Another group member and Willie’s best friend, Robert Wray, exited the water to examine the drop. Wray then warned the group they should get out of the water to avoid the dam.
“By that time, most of us were able to get out,” Lazoore said. “Some of us were really struggling to get out on time. The water was starting to pick up … but Cal was already too close.”
Humphries says water conditions are unpredictable this time of year and can change rapidly.
“The water was a foot higher Sunday than it had been on Saturday,” Humphries says. “There are a lot of real dangerous places on the rivers here. We have a number of these low-head dams and people should use caution.”