A University of Idaho freshman drowned while trying to swim to a small island near the Freeman Creek Boat Launch on Dworshak Reservoir early Saturday afternoon during a fraternity camping trip.
Preston W. Vorhauer, 18, of Kamiah, was reportedly one-half to two-thirds of the way across the 150-yard gap when he yelled to his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers that he couldn’t make it and was turning back, said Detective Mike Deitrick with the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office.
About six fellow fraternity members were trying to make it to the island, some ahead of Vorhauer and some behind, when he became distressed, Deitrick said.
Two men were able to grab Vorhauer briefly, but they told Deitrick they were unable to hang on.
“They weren’t able to hold on to him anymore and he slipped away,” Deitrick said.
Lambda Chi Alpha members at the scene declined to comment.
Vorhauer is listed as a freshman anthropology major on UI’s online directory.
Clearwater County sheriff’s deputies already had a boat patrolling the reservoir, and it responded to the 1:19 p.m. call along with Clearwater Ambulance Service members, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation rangers, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers.
Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz immediately brought a second patrol boat, and the corps also responded with two boats.
There were also about 30 private boats trying to find Vorhauer when Deitrick arrived on the scene.
Clearwater County Dive Team members worked for hours in limited-visibility conditions at the bottom to locate the body and recovered it with the use of on-boat sonar shortly before 4 p.m.
Goetz said without the equipment it could have taken days to find the body in those conditions even though the water was only 17 feet deep.
Authorities have no reason to believe the incident was anything other than an accidental drowning, Deitrick said.