MISSOULA — A 3-year-old boy is dead after drowning in the Bitterroot River on Friday.
Chris Hoffman, Ravalli County sheriff, said the Stevensville boy was floating the river with his father and 6-year-old brother Friday around 3 p.m. The family was in an inflatable raft just north of Bell Crossing fishing access between Victor and Stevensville.
The father told deputies that when they came to a fork in the river, he was not able to paddle to shore to avoid a log jam. The raft hit the logs and flipped over, throwing all three passengers into the water. The father and older brother surfaced, but the young boy was trapped underneath the jam. Hoffman said while his office doesn’t have a history of river danger in that particular area, hazards on the Bitterroot can change month-to-month.
The father was able to recover his son, and began CPR on him. A person working in a field nearby called 911, which responded with emergency medical crews from Hamilton, Victor and Stevensville, in addition to Ravalli County sheriff’s deputies. The boy was taken to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead early Saturday morning. The sheriff’s office is withholding the child’s name until all family have been notified.