Washington state rafter drowns in Moyie River

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BONNERS FERRY — James Harston of Spokane drowned after falling from his raft May 8 on the Moyie River near the Meadow Creek Campground.

According to Public Information Officer Mike Meier of Boundary County Emergency Management, a witness reported to law enforcement that they had observed Harston fall into the river from his raft by Meadow Creek. Due to the speed of the river, they were unable to reach him.

“The river is really high right now, almost to flood stage,” said volunteer Hall Mountain Firefighter Sandy Steinhagen, one of the first responders. “It is raging and turbulent, and of course, it is icy cold.”

The Boundary County Sheriff’s Office had received a report around 5:30 p.m. on May 8 of a person seen floating face down on the Moyie River near the Meadow Creek Campground area. Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, along with first responders from Boundary County Search and Dive Rescue, Boundary Ambulance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Hall Mountain Fire, North Bench Fire, Moyie Fire, and Pilot Rich Little, all responded to the scene.

Harston had been wearing a wetsuit and a life jacket. Despite those safety precautions, and after an extensive search, his body was recovered near the Moyie Dam.

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