Glacier Park

Glacier Park Drowning Victims Identified

Siddhant Vitthal Patil, 26, of India, and Raju Jha, 28, of Nepal, died in separate incidents in Glacier National Park on July 6

By Maggie Dresser
Water pours over rocks along Avalanche Creek. Beacon file photo

Officials have identified the two individuals who drowned in Glacier National Park on Saturday, according to a National Park Service press release.  

Siddhant Vitthal Patil, a 26-year-old man from India, and 28-year-old Raju Jha, of Nepal, drowned in separate incidents on July 6.

Patil was hiking above the gorge on Avalanche Lake Trail when he diverted from the trail and fell off a large rock into Avalanche Creek. It is unclear if he slipped on a wet portion of the rock or if he lost his balance. Friends and witnesses saw him go underwater in the creek and resurface briefly before he was swept up by the current and into the gorge, according to the release.

ALERT helicopter conducted aerial searches of the creek and rangers scoured the area, but his body has not been recovered and he is presumed dead. Rangers suspect his body is being held down by submerged trees and rocks.

Rangers are continuously monitoring the area and starting to recover personal items that have washed downstream, but the water in the gorge is unsearchable due to its depth and turbulence. Park rangers today flew a drone to determine the location of the body but failed to locate it. Ground search efforts continue from the gorge to the bridge on the Trail of Cedars.

Patil was living and working in California and was on vacation with friends.

In a separate incident, Nepal native and Portland, Oregon, resident Raju Jha – who was visiting with friends – was swimming on Saturday evening in Lake McDonald near Sprague Creek Campground. He began to struggle about 30 yards from the shore before submerging under the water and never resurfacing. According to his friends, he was an inexperienced swimmer.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office dive team recovered his body at about 8:20 p.m.