17-year-old Helena boy dies while swimming at Canyon Ferry

Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue
Posted at 2:41 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 20:23:42-04

HELENA — Authorities say a 17-year-old Helena boy died on Saturday afternoon, while swimming at Canyon Ferry Lake.

It happened near the Crittenden day-use area, on the west side of the lake. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says several people had been swimming when the wind came up and the waves became larger. The people who had been with the boy called 911 just after 4 p.m., to report they hadn’t seen him for about 10 minutes.

Dutton said the sheriff’s office Water Emergency Team, divers from Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue and the Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department responded to the lake. He said they couldn’t locate him initially, so they began an underwater search. After about two hours, they recovered the boy’s body in about 15 feet of water.

“Our condolences to the family,” said Dutton. “We are extremely saddened by the loss of this young man in Helena.”

An autopsy will be conducted in Missoula.

Dutton said authorities were told the boy was not a strong swimmer.

“The water’s still cold in Montana,” he said. “Please have an understanding: That takes the energy out of you much faster than warmer water, and the wind can come up unexpectedly on Canyon Ferry, and the waves will get large.”

Dutton recommended that people wear life jackets in the lake if they are not experienced swimmers.