Missoula Story of the Week: Dangerous Spring Runoff Waters

By TOM DIDDEL

This week’s warm weather has brought raising waters to western Montana’s rivers and streams. As the snowpack in the surrounding mountains begins its descent, the area’s waterways have become more dangerous and have quite possible claimed the life of a Missoula man.

On Wednesday afternoon a man and woman were witnessed jumping from the Madison street pedestrian bridge. The Missoulian reported that the woman made it safely to shore, but the man failed to reach the banks of the Clark Fork.

The search for the missing man, which began Wednesday evening, was called off Thursday around 2:00 p.m. because of rising flood waters, according to a KPAX.com report.

Sgt. Jake Rosling of the Missoula Police Department told the Missoulian that the man was last seen some 350 yards downstream of the bridge.

High water on the Salmon River for the annual Selway Run.KPAX.com reported that witnesses along the shore of the Clark Fork observed the man struggling in the water and then finally go under the surface of the river at which point he was not seenagain.

The man and the woman had been swimming in the river prior to deciding to jump off the bridge. According to NBCMontana.com, witnesses stated several other people had been jumping from the structure during the hot evening.

KPAX.com reported that investigators have identified the man as a nineteen year old University of Montana student, but have not released his name, or that of the female who had jumped off the bridge before him.

Detective Jason Johnson told NBCMontana.com that officials want citizens to enjoy or rivers and streams, but to do it in a safe manner and stay out of rising waters.

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Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.

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Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.