A 21-year-old Malad man drowned Friday while tubing in the Teton River with friends, Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries said.
Humphries said the victim, Cal Willie, was a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Humphries said Willie and 10 other students were floating the river between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. when they encountered a low-head dam in the Wilford area.
Water passes over the dam, which diverts flows into an irrigation canal.
Humphries warned low-head dams are extremely dangerous, and anyone planning a float trip should be familiar with the stretch of water and research locations of any such dams beforehand.
“Nationwide, they’re very dangerous, and we have a number of them in Fremont County,” Humphries said.
Humphries said several logs were caught in the turbulence, and Willie attempted to hold onto a log after he went over the dam. The turbulence, however, repeatedly dunked him.
“The turbulence on the downstream side of the dam is extreme, and he got caught in the turbulence,” Humphries said. “A couple of friends tried to rescue him, and they about lost their lives.”
Humphries said Fremont County Search and Rescue responded well after Willie had already drowned, but they managed to retrieve two students who were still in the water who had been trying to rescue him.
Search and Rescue joined Bingham County Swift Water Rescue and Bonneville County Swift Water Rescue Monday, who have been out with divers seeking the body. Willie’s body had not been located as of Monday night.