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Coeur d'Alene, ID - On Tuesday, October 22nd, at about 10:07 AM, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s 911 Center received multiple calls reporting it appeared two people were in Lake Coeur d’Alene several hundred feet off the NIC Beach and clinging to a floating log. Members of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Marine Section/Dive Rescue Team and the CDA Fire Rescue Boat immediately responded to the area and quickly located two males floating in the water. The CDA Fire crew were able to get the males onto their vessel and start medical treatment.
Upon investigation, the males were identified as Dillon Szafas, 25, of Coeur d’Alene, and Jeffery Fries, 33, of Post Falls. It was determined that Szafas and Fries had been duck hunting in Cougar Bay in Szafas’ 12 ft. flat bottom boat and were driving back to the 3rd Street Docks. Szafas said he was operating the vessel at the time, and started hitting some large waves. He said one wave came up and over the front of the vessel causing it to swamp and over turn. Although, the pair did have PFDs on the vessel, neither were wearing one.
When located, Szafas and Fries were clinging to their floating duck decoys in order to stay above the water. Neither of the males were injured and only treated at the scene for mild hypothermia. At this time it appears the vessel being over loaded due to its small size and amount of gear being carried, caused it to ride too low in the water and directly contributed to the vessel swamping. Alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.
KCSO would like to remind all boaters to be aware of their vessel’s legal weight capacity and be sure not to exceed it. Additionally, it is recommended for all people on a vessel to wear a life jacket, especially when operating during foul and colder weather.
Sheriff Ben Wolfinger
By: Sgt. W.H. Klinkefus