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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Three more victims of Pend Oreille River boat crash found and identified, bringing death toll to four

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office searches the Pend Oreille River near Priest River Wednesday after a speedboat capsized Tuesday night.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

The bodies of the remaining three victims of a boat crash on the Pend Oreille River this week have been found, and all four victims of the capsizing have been identified.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Friday that the bodies of Gregory J. Daiker, 59, of Laclede, Idaho; Aaron J. Faulhaber, 49, of Laclede; Jason L. Maxson, 51, of Laclede; and John R. Schulte, 59, of Sandpoint, were retrieved from the river.

The boat they were on capsized Tuesday evening.

The Bonner County release said Daiker’s body was recovered Tuesday night; Faulhaber’s body was found Thursday night in about 80 feet of water near the scene of the crash; and Maxson and Schulte were recovered Friday close to the crash at depths of about 60 feet. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office sonar team, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office’s dive team and marine division recovered the bodies.

The sheriff’s office expressed condolences to friends and family of the men killed in the “very unfortunate tragic event.”

The boat went down around 7 p.m. near Old Thama Ferry Road, about 6 miles southeast of Priest River at a spot around 94 feet deep.

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

One witness to the crash, Mike Kimling, said he saw the boat go airborne before flipping upside down.

Kimling said the boat was heading west when the front of it lifted out of the water, landing upside down “like somebody did a belly flop.” He said the wind was blowing hard at the time.

“It happened really quick,” he said.

The sheriff’s office said in the release the cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Kimling and his wife rushed to the end of a dock to try to find the boat riders but didn’t see anyone.

“Nobody likes to see it,” Kimling said of the accident. “It’s horrible. It’s horrible.”

Kimling and another neighbor said area residents normally would have launched their boats at this point in the year and could have cruised out to the crash to potentially help the victims. But the Albeni Falls Dam remains open, and the river level is lower than normal, keeping many vessels out of the river.

While circumstances surrounding the crash are unclear, Idaho officials have warned of deceptively cold waterways in the state at certain times of the year.

“One of the challenges in Idaho is that higher air temperatures in the spring can cause a false sense of security for boaters,” David Dahms, state boating law administrator, was quoted as saying in a KXLY article.

North Idaho and the rest of the Inland Northwest weathered an unusually cool spring this year. Bonners Ferry, for example, was only 70 degrees on Wednesday but roasted at 107 degrees on the same day in 2021, according to the National Weather Service.