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Bitterroot River Accident Claims Child’s Life

bitterroot river
The Bitterroot River, deceptively calm. (KLYQ File Photo)
A six-year-old girl drowned in a boating accident Sunday afternoon on the Bitterroot River.

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said Joslyn Sage Farrell from Washington state was in a drift boat with her father and others when the boat capsized in a strong current called a hydraulic step below a diversion dam between the Woodside and Tucker Crossing Fishing Access Sites, two miles north of Corvallis.

Several people were tossed into the water and were caught in the current.

The child was unresponsive when pulled from the river. Life Fight helicopter flew Farrell to St Patrick Hospital. Efforts to revive her failed. The others made it out of the water safely with no other injuries reported, according to Sheriff Hoffman.

The incident is under investigation by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office. Responding to the scene were the Sheriff’s Office, Corvallis Fire Department, Ravalli County Search and Rescue, FWP wardens and Valley EMS.

Hoffman said the Bitterroot River is still considered to be in high water, with numerous obstructions and fast moving currents.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials note that due to changes in the Bitterroot River channels in the past few years, the west channel downstream of Woodside is not navigable, and boaters must use the channel that contains the diversion dam. They advise boaters to portage around the dam. Signs have been posted upstream of the obstruction.

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