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Sheriff releases name of North Idaho drowning victim

Thu., June 24, 2010, 2:48 p.m.

Canoeist dies in dawn paddle on Spokane River

A man whose body was recovered from the Spokane River shortly before 7 a.m. today after he was tossed from a canoe near Post Falls was identified this afternoon as Michael W. Blankartz, of Spirit Lake.

His body was recovered by Kootenai County Sheriff’s dive rescue team members downstream from Corbin Park about two miles west of Post Falls Dam.

The apparent drowning victim was found dead in about four feet of water one mile downstream from the park. He was not wearing a personal flotation device.

Major Ben Wolfinger in a media release said that the death occurred when Blankartz and a friend, identified as Danny J. Richison, 29, of Post Falls, set out in a canoe about 5:50 a.m. in an attempt to float to the old Pleasant View Bridge area.

According to the survivor, the canoe flipped shortly after leaving shore, tossing both men into the river.

The survivor, who was also not wearing a flotation device, grabbed onto the canoe for a short period of time, which helped him get back to shore.

The victim was last seen floating down the river below the first set of rapids downstream from the small park off North Corbin Road.

His body was spotted by the Medstar medical helicopter, which flew to the scene in the recovery effort, Wolfinger said.

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