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BYUI student’s tragedy prompts water safety education

After more than 10 days of searching, the body of 21-year-old Cal Willie has been found.

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public on how to identify unsafe water conditions.

On June 16, Cal Willie, of Malad, Idaho was reported missing in the Teton River.

Shorty after first responders arrived at the scene, Willie’s search and rescue mission turned into a recovery mission.

Willie and nine other friends were floating down the river on inner tubes, not knowing there was a diversion dam.

Len Humphries, sheriff of Fremont County said, “Two of the boys that were with Cal’s group jumped in and tried to save him. We almost lost them too, but he went underwater and not able to pull him back up.”

Humphries spoke with coroners on site, and they had anticipated that the boy’s body would not be found for about 10 to 12 days.

As they predicted, It took about that long before his body was recovered.

Humphries says this was due to high water levels.

“We are under high water right now. Snow is melting off the mountains that makes it difficult. The water is not clear and can’t see into it very well,” said Humphries.

During the summer, some people go to rivers to cool off, but it is important to use caution.

Humphries said, “Stay out of the river when it’s high water. The water is cold, it’s dangerous, currents are very strong, and lots of snags in the river. If you want to float the river please wear a personal flotation device.”

In Willie’s situation, he and his friends were unaware of the dangerous water conditions.

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public to beware of where you choose to have your summer fun.

“Know where you are going. If you are going to float the river, do some research. Find out from somebody who has floated the river. Not just from somebody who thinks they can do it. We have a lot of water in Fremont County. I encourage people to be careful and cautious. Again, please don’t go in the water during high water conditions. We have had a couple of drawings last year and now the one this year. Be very careful,” said Humphries.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Willie at Horsley Funeral Home in Malad.

An obituary will be released Tuesday.

In April, a Fremont County Deputy spotted two young men about to float from Last Chance Creek to Ashton.

There are three huge waterfalls in that stretch of river.

The deputy was able to warn the individuals of the danger before getting hurt but now urge others to not make the same mistake.

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