Divers pulled the body of a Kootenai County firefighter from the icy Clark Fork River Thursday afternoon, ending a search for the man who drowned more than a month ago.
“At least now the man’s family can put this to rest and have some peace of mind,” said Bonner County Undersheriff Nick Krager.
Richard Brown, 35, fell into the river during a duck hunting trip in December with two other firefighters. Authorities said the men were in a small, overloaded rowboat trying to cross the river.
When the boat capsized in the wind-whipped river, Brown’s waders filled with water and pulled him under. The other two men, Bradley Belcomt, 25, and Dustin Thurman, 23, managed to swim to shore, but Brown never resurfaced.
Divers from Kootenai and Bonner counties combed the river bed for nearly two weeks after the accident, but never found Brown.
Teams of divers from both counties decided to search the river again this week before a winter blizzard was supposed to hit the area.
“It was one of their firemen and they wanted to give it another shot. They wanted to find him, mostly for the family’s sake, so we went out with them,” Krager said.
After about three hours in the water, a diver spotted Brown’s body in six feet of water. He was only 100 yards from where the boat initially capsized and a just a few yards from shore.
Authorities initially thought Brown’s body might have been carried downstream by now and into Lake Pend Oreille.
“The water had calmed down a bit since the accident and wasn’t as high, but we didn’t expect to find him so close to shore,” Krager said.
Brown was a lieutenant with the Kootenai County Fire Department. His body was taken back to Coeur d’Alene Thursday.
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