An unidentified BYU-Idaho student was resuscitated July 1 after almost drowning near Twin Bridges.
Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, names and certain identifying information cannot be disclosed, but East Idaho Regional Medical Center confirmed that the student is still in serious condition.
Fremont County Sheriff, Len Humphries, reported a 21-year-old black male received CPR from a young female also approximately 21 years old. Had the woman not have been there, the young man could have died.
Jared Dalebout, the hydrologist for the Bureau of Land Management Upper Snake Field Office in Idaho Falls, said due to the conditions of the soil in many areas, runoff amounts have been unusually high with 140 percent more precipitation than usual.
“The high water is considered dangerous for recreation due to very high velocities and currents with enormous amounts of energy that can lead to people drowning,” Dalebout said.
Dalebout said with these high flows in rivers this year, larger debris has moved along the river that usually doesn’t move in previous years.
“We urge the public to use extreme caution for these reasons,” Dalebout said.
Water levels have been so high this year that the BLM has closed many roads, boat ramps and recreation sites due to the dangerous water.
TRAVIS TAYLOR | Scroll Illustration
This is not the first time a BYU-I student has had to fight for life against the local rivers. In 2015, Sjon Johnson drowned when the rushing water caused his canoe to capsize on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Scott Hart drowned in 2014 near Twin Bridges after being swept into a tree. Lance Jensen drowned in 2009 after diving into a St. Anthony sand bar of the Snake River. There have been many other drowning-related accidents for locals as well as students in the Rexburg area.
On July 4, a group of six people went rafting on the Snake River in Jackson Hole. After the raft flipped, a 21-year-old young man named Oliver Woodward was swept away. He was reported as not wearing a life jacket; his body has yet to be recovered.
“No one should ever excuse themselves from taking precautions when in the water.”
-Samantha Lewis, Freshman, Exercise Physiology
“We encourage everyone to learn how to do CPR,” Humphries said. “It’s not that difficult. It doesn’t take that long to learn how to do it. It is a very valuable skill; you never know when you might need it. I would encourage people to be very cautious swimming in the local rivers. The water in most of them is on the high side, and it’s not to be taken lightly.”
The Outdoor Resource Center at BYU-I is legally responsible for renting out life jackets to every student. Even if someone is renting a tube, the ORC is required to give them a life jacket to ensure the safety of whom ever rents from them.
Taylor Garner, a sophomore studying nursing, and Kiersten Lind, a junior studying earth science education, both explained the importance of being prepared and safe in water recreation.
“Always wear life jackets every time,” Lind said. “Life jackets are a really good way to keep you above water. Looking and being conscious of what’s ahead of you in the river is important. I think going with someone who knows what they’re doing is also really important.”
Kayla Abplanalp, a senior studying child development, said she has been here, at BYU-I for three spring semesters and has never seen the water so high or fast. Abplanalp has gone bridge jumping many times before.
“The current was really strong and took us further down the river than it usually does,” Abplanalp said. “We went out to the bridge probably a month and a half ago to feel the water and see how high it was, and I would say that it hasn’t gotten any lower, warmer or slower since May. When we went bridge jumping, we tried to jump in the areas that weren’t so fast, but we only jumped once and then decided it was too dangerous to continue.”
Samantha Lewis, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said she used to swim competitively and believes herself to be a good swimmer, but says that even though she believes she is a strong swimmer these fast currents can be rather difficult. She believes that when it comes to water, being aware of the risks is very important.
Lewis said that even though bridge jumping can be a fun activity, there are plenty of risks invovled.
Lewis encourages others to know their limitations when it comes to swimming and to always be cautions when they are around the water.
“No one should ever excuse themselves from taking precautions when in the water,” Lewis said.