Teen from American Falls dies in tubing accident on South Fork of Boise River

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18-year-old Taylor Paige Smith was killed in tubing accident last Saturday. | Courtesy David Rose Mortuary

AMERICAN FALLS – The young woman who died while floating the South Fork of the Boise River in Elmore County on Saturday afternoon was Taylor Paige Smith, according to an online obituary.

Smith, an 18-year-old Burley native, was a recent graduate of American Falls High School, the obituary posted by Davis-Rose Mortuary says. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a teacher at a local dance studio.

Smith’s sister posted the obituary on Facebook, with a note to her sister:

“It’s so hard to process that you’re not coming home. Our number is 4 and right now there’s only 3,” Kaylee Smith wrote. “I am going to miss you so much Taylor. I hate that I wasn’t there to help you or to protect you, I’m the big sister that’s my job and you weren’t supposed to be first.”

A viewing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, July 19, and 10 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints American Falls Stake Center, 111 Church Place. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. following the second viewing at the church. Condolences and memories may be shared by clicking here.

Smith was wearing a life jacket and floating the river on an inner tube when the accident occurred Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Mike Hollinshead told the Statesman on Tuesday.

Hollinshead released more information about the accident on the sheriff’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.

It was reported at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday, about 3 miles south of Featherville.

“The citizen also reported a total of four individuals had been floating on inner tubes from the Featherville Bridge to the Johnson Bridge and encountered a logjam which spanned across the river and forced at least two of the individuals off their tubes into the swift, cold water. Three individuals were able to self-rescue to shore, with the victim last seen being pulled into the water by the swift current,” the sheriff wrote.

Searchers in the Pine area came upon four other stranded rafters — one of whom had a serious head injury. Water rescue teams searched for the woman until dark, while the ground team stayed there overnight, the sheriff said.

From the shore, the Smith’s family found where she was trapped underwater. On Sunday morning, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Dive Team worked with local teams to recover her body from the water.

“The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim of this tragedy,” the sheriff wrote. “Additionally, we would also like to express our gratitude to the many volunteers and emergency responders who assisted in the search and recovery of the victim.”

Smith’s death was the third river recreation death in Southwest Idaho in less than two weeks. An Enumclaw, Washington, woman died while rafting the Main Payette on July 4, and a Boise man died while rafting the South Fork of the Payette on July 11.

South Fork of the Boise River | MIKE PRATER, MPRATER@IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM

This story was first published by the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.

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