Authorities still looking for body of drowned man in Teton River

Fremont COUNTY, IDAHO —  Authorities in Fremont County, Idaho are still searching for the body of a 21-year-old man who drowned in the Teton River Friday evening.

Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries said 21-year-old Calvin Willie from Malad, Idaho drowned after getting caught in a low head dam on Teton River. Low head dams, Humphries explained, are especially dangerous in times of high water, like right now. Water flows over the dam and creates strong hydraulics and recirculating currents. “Anything that gets caught in there just gets dumped back in,” Humphries said.

Willie was one of 10 people, all BYU students, floating the Teton River in innertubes on Friday. The group put in at Monkey Rock. Humphries said it’s likely they weren’t aware of the dam downstream. Some of Willie’s friends tried to rescue him from downstream but were unsuccessful. One was hospitalized and treated for hypothermia. The Teton River is just over 50 degrees right now.

Crews were on the river Saturday searching for the body, Humphries said.

“It’s unfortunate that the kids didn’t know they were floating a stretch of water that was not safe,” Humphries said.

Bonneville County and Bingham County Search and Rescue are assisting with recovering the body. Authorities are using sonar and will use divers if conditions allow.

Floating a river is inherently dangerous, but especially in the early summer when water is fast and cold. “I encourage people to be aware of what’s ahead of them on rivers if they’re going to be floating, Humphries said.

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