Reclamation Worker Is Feared Drowned When Boat Capsizes Crew Was Surveying Snake River For Endangered Snails

A worker for the Bureau of Reclamation is presumed drowned after being flipped out of a boat that struck a rock in the Snake River in southeastern Idaho.

Authorities were still searching the river near American Falls on Wednesday for the body of Richard Konopaky, 43, of Meridian.

Officials said Konopaky and Gene and Sandy Ralston were surveying the river Tuesday evening for endangered snail species near Eagle Rock, about seven miles downstream from the American Falls Dam, when the 18-foot aluminum boat capsized.

None were wearing life jackets, Power County Marine Deputy Dellas Skinner said. The Ralstons grabbed life jackets after being thrown into the water and put them on, but there was no evidence that Konopaky reached a life jacket or survived, Skinner said.

Fishermen spotted the Ralstons and let their boat drift down to rescue them after being unable to start its motor.

The Bureau of Reclamation reduced flow from the reservoir to 300 cubic feet per second on Wednesday, lowering the river to make the search easier.

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