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Search crews scour Kootenai River for missing kayaker

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Hagadone News Network | June 29, 2024 4:00 PM

Search teams continued to look Saturday for a missing woman who disappeared while kayaking the Kootenai River in Northwest Montana earlier in the week.

According to Lincoln County Sheriff Darren Short, teams with the county and David Thompson Search and Rescue were using everything in their tool boxes to locate the missing woman, Jessica Prado.

In addition to dogs and a drone, underwater camera equipment was used to aid in the hunt for woman. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held back water at Libby Dam to lower water levels on the river to assist searchers.

According to a press release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, dispatch received a call at about 7:58 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26. Prado and Jared Satterlund were kayaking above Kootenai Falls when they began having problems.

Satterlund tried to help Prado, but he last saw her struggling in an eddy in the river before losing sight of her.

Short said the two people had been kayaking different sections of the river in days prior to Wednesday’s incident. He also said they were not wearing life vests.

Short said their two-person kayak capsized just below China Rapids. They had made arrangements to be picked up above Kootenai Falls.

A dog that had accompanied them was also able to get out of the river, along with Satterlund.

Deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and David Thompson Search and Rescue responded to search for Prado. A cooler was found near the shore above Kootenai Falls and a damaged kayak and other property were recovered below Kootenai Falls.

Flathead Valley’s Two Bear Air Rescue also responded to assist with the search.

Short asked people who encountered searchers to avoid disrupting their efforts. He also urged caution to people using the river and recommended wearing a personal flotation device.

“The Kootenai River has claimed many lives over the years,” Short said. “It has dangerous undertows which can catch people unaware and lead to a life-threatening situation.”