Two North Idaho duck hunters died early Sunday, apparent victims of cold water and heavy hunting clothing that weighed them down.
John J. Hario of Coeur d’Alene and Earl Roger Fulton of Pinehurst both were found too late by rescuers who pulled their bodies out of Cave Lake near Medimont, Idaho.
The men were barely away from shore when water started filling their 12-foot aluminum boat not long before 6 a.m. It sank.
James Dossett of Smelterville, Idaho, called 911 at 5:49 a.m., telling dispatchers he couldn’t find his two friends after their boat had gone down. In a news release, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department said the boat likely was overloaded.
Deputies, medics and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department dive team arrived.
At 6:28 a.m., an ambulance crew found Fulton, 31, floating on the lake. The crew tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him.
Almost two hours later, divers found Hario, 45. He was in a mere 7 feet of water about 115 feet from shore.
Dossett was treated at the scene for hypothermia and shock.
None of the men was wearing life preservers, said sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Soumas, and no preservers were found in the boat. The men were wearing hunting gear and waders, and the water was a chilly 45 degrees.
Deputies still are investigating and autopsies will be performed. Sheriff’s officials are calling the tragedy a double drowning.
Soumas said it is a sad reminder that boaters should never be without life preservers and that North Idaho waters are cooling off.
“This combined with heavy clothing can have tragic results,” he said.