Search Continues for Nebraska Man Who Fell Into Flathead River

Deputies and tribal rangers are still scouring the river in search of the individual

By Dillon Tabish
Rafters float the Flathead River below Kerr Dam on Aug. 13, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Search crews continue to look for a 23-year-old Nebraska man who slipped and fell into the Flathead River below the dam near Polson.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said Thursday morning that deputies and tribal rangers are still scouring the river in search of the individual. A search and rescue canine unit has been brought in to aid in the effort.

Bell is withholding the identity of the male at this time.

Authorities received a report of an accident just past noon on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Nebraska man was with a group of friends and they hiked down to the overlook area near the Selis Ksanka Qlispe Dam on the Flathead Indian Reservation. According to witness statements, the man walked outside the posted boundaries and climbed down the rocky hillside before slipping and falling about 12 feet into the river below.

Bell said the rocky hillside is often slippery due to the mist from the nearby dam and is extremely dangerous. He said individuals who are caught crossing outside the posted boundary are cited due to its dangerous nature.

River flows have steadily increased in recent weeks due to spring runoff. Energy Keepers, the tribal organization in charge of managing the dam, temporarily lowered discharges from the facility on Wednesday to aid in the investigation and rescue efforts. After a two-hour reduction in flows, project operations were returned to normal.

The overlook is currently closed and will remain so to accommodate emergency services.

In a statement, Energy Keepers said, “Our thoughts are with the missing person and their family.”

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