Days After Woman Dies, Two More Water Rescues in Glacier Park

A 12-year-old boy falls into McDonald Creek an hour before four people flip a raft on the North Fork

By Justin Franz

Just three days after a woman drowned in Glacier National Park, rangers responded to two more water-related accidents just an hour apart from each other on Tuesday afternoon.

In one incident, a young boy was playing near a creek when he fell in and was rushed downstream. In the other, a raft carrying a family from California flipped on the North Fork of the Flathead River. No one was injured in either incident.

National Park Service officials said the two incidents are a reminder that many of the lakes, rivers and streams in the park are still running high and that drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the park.

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, a young boy whose family was on a Red Bus tour was playing on a log at Red Rock Point when he slipped and fell into McDonald Creek. Witnesses said the boy was swept down the creek about 20 yards before another visitor jumped in and brought to boy to shore.

Park rangers responded in an inflatable kayak and life jackets and brought both the man and the boy back to the shore closest to Going-to-the-Sun Road.

While that incident was safely wrapping up, park dispatch received another report of a raft accident. At about 1:30 p.m., a raft carrying a family of four from California flipped on the North Fork of the Flathead River about 12 miles north of Columbia Falls.

Park rangers, Flathead County sheriff deputies, Two Bear Helicopter and members of North Valley Search and Rescue all responded to the accident. Soon after the search began, the crew on the Two Bear helicopter spotted the family on the bank of the river, cold but alive. A boat was dispatched to pick up the family and take them back to their car.

The accidents come just three days after a Washington women drowned in McDonald Creek. Abigail Sylvester, 33, was visiting the park with her husband on July 12 when she slipped and fell in the creek. Park rangers found the woman a half-mile downstream and she was airlifted to Kalispell but was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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