Missing man presumed drowned in Priest River

SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2009, 9:06 P.M.

A Kootenai County man is presumed drowned after falling from a log into the Priest River on Friday night.

Donald Robert Maskell, 43, was camping on private property along the river about four miles north of the confluence with the Pend Oreille River with his girlfriend and another friend, said Bonner County Sheriff’s Lt. Ror Lakewold.

About 6 p.m., Maskell was walking on a log that angled into the river when he lost his footing and fell in, Lakewold said.

“He was last seen trying to swim and fighting the current,” Lakewold said.

Search and rescue teams combed the banks of the river until about midnight Friday and were posted on the U.S. Highway 2 bridge over the river through the night, Lakewold said.

A helicopter and airplane participated in search efforts on Saturday, but no body was located, Lakewold said. Police decided not to search on Sunday.

“We’re waiting for the water conditions to change,” Lakewold said. “The visibility through the water is poor.”

Click here to comment on this story »