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Father Tries To Save Son From Palouse River, Both Drown Tragedy Occurred As Family Was Taking Evening Stroll

FRIDAY, JULY 5, 1996

A Harvard, Idaho, father and his teenage son drowned in the Palouse River Wednesday evening after a walk from the town park, according to the Latah County Sheriff’s Department.

Gary Gilliam, 56, apparently was attempting to save his son, 16-year-old Gary Chip Gilliam Jr., when they drowned in a 12-foot-deep hole at about 7 p.m., said Sheriff Joe Overstreet.

The hole is about 1-1/2 miles southeast of Harvard, eight miles east of Potlatch.

“Gary Jr. is a known non-swimmer,” Overstreet said. The sheriff’s department is still investigating how he initially got in the river.

Two grandchildren of the elder Gilliam, ages 7 and 8, were at the scene, but deputies have been unable to question them, Overstreet said.

“They’re still in shock,” he said.

The children ran to the nearest house, about a mile away, to get help. The residents called the ambulance and sheriff’s department.

A helicopter ambulance from Spokane was also summoned. But paramedics were unable to revive the Gilliams, who had reportedly been underwater about 25 minutes, Overstreet said.

The elder Gilliam died at the scene, and his son died at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow.

The family members were walking along the railroad tracks near the river from a Harvard city park when the accident occurred, Overstreet said.

“It’s kind of traditional there to walk down the railroad tracks,” he said.

Gary Gilliam, Jr., attended high school in Lewiston.

, DataTimes

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