Clark Fork River

Search and Rescue personnel probe the Clark Fork River near the Higgins Avenue bridge on Thursday, May 17, in search of a 19-year-old man who disappeared in the water Wednesday evening.


MISSOULA — The body found last week along the Clark Fork River in Alberton Gorge has been identified as that of a 19-year-old Missoula man who drowned earlier this year, authorities said Monday.

The young man — whose family has asked the Missoula Police Department not to release his name — jumped off the Madison Street footbridge and disappeared into the river on May 16.

The man and a female friend, who had been swimming in the river, jumped from the bridge that evening, but only one of them made it to shore, Missoula police spokesman Travis Welsh said.

“She went first. She hit the water and heard him hit the water behind her. She swam to shore and climbed up on the bank, then she turned and looked to see him struggling,” Welsh said.

The man was last seen just west of Kiwanis Park, Welsh said. “He apparently got very close to shore. Then he went under and never came back up.”

Neither alcohol nor drugs appear to have been a factor in the incident, he said.

The search for the young man was called off May 17 because of high water and the danger to searchers combing the river bank in Missoula.

There was no sign of the man until last week, when a body was found on the rocks in the Triple Bridges area of the Clark Fork River in Mineral County.

Dental records have now positively identified the body as that of the young man who jumped from the footbridge, Missoula police said Monday. He has been identified only as a former University of Montana student.