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California Man Drowns In Snake Chemist Rafting With Co-Workers From Ineel Jumps From Cliff Without Wearing Life Jacket

Wed., July 30, 1997

A Northern California man drowned in the Snake River while rafting with some co-workers from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.

Michael Cohen, 41, a chemist with Parsons Engineering, died Sunday after jumping from a cliff into the river east of Alpine, Wyo., between Cottonwood and Sheep’s Gulch rapids.

“When we got to him, he was face down,” witness Tom Beeda said. “We did CPR for about 45 minutes, but he never had a pulse.”

Cohen and about 20 co-workers from Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Co., the Energy Department contractor at the INEEL, stopped at the cliffs about 3 p.m. Sunday.

Three people jumped into the river from a ledge about 20 feet above the water.

Cohen was the only one not wearing a life jacket.

Cohen jumped head first while his companions were using safety ropes to pull another jumper to shore, Beeda said. Cohen spent 12 to 14 minutes in the 52-degree water before co-workers could reach him.

“He was told not to jump, but he was afraid to climb back down the cliff,” Beeda said. “If he had been wearing a personal flotation device, it would not have happened.”

Cohen was a temporary employee with Lockheed scheduled to return to Oakland, Calif., at the beginning of October, said Teri Ehresman, a Lockheed spokeswoman. He was the father of two children.

“His colleagues and co-workers said he was bright, capable and accomplished,” Ehresman said. “He was very well-liked.”

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