Missing Person - UPDATED
From Sheriff Chris Goetz: On 09/08/19 at approximately 3:23 pm the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office received a report of a person that had gone into Elk Creek Falls and has not been seen since. A 16 year old male from Deary was hiking with friends near the top of the middle falls when he lost his footing and fell into the water. The friends saw him go in but soon lost sight of him as he went down the falls. They did not see him again after he went into the water. Searchers on the ground we not able to locate him that evening. Back County Medics flew their helicopter as part of the search but were also not able to locate him and had to leave the area due to low fog. On 09/09/19 divers with Clearwater County Sheriff's Search and Rescue searched below the lower pool of middle falls and dove in the lower pool to attempt to locate the 16 year old. They completed a search of the 23 feet deep pool and did not locate him. Back Country Medics again flew the area along with a drone with no success. Search and Rescue members will again remain in the area over night. On 09/10/19 an attempt will be made to reduce the flow in Elk Creek to better search the falls with the assistance of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game who can make some adjustments at the up stream dam. The Sheriff's Office would ask the public to stay out of the Elk Creek Falls area at this time.
The dam at the Elk River Reservoir was blocked this morning and the flow was almost stopped. As the water was receding a dive team and rope team prepared search the area. The dive team, made up of a Clearwater County Sheriff's Deputy and an Idaho County Search and Rescue member, was able to search the pool at the bottom of the middle falls and did not find the victim. The rope team, from Back Country Medics, then sent a rappeller down the falls to search along and behind the falls. He was not able to search all of the areas due to the water flow but did find a pool of water behind the falls near the bottom that could not been seen until he got to it. He was not able to find the victim. A drone, from the Idaho State Police was flown during these operations and searched the area of the falls. Back Country Medics then flew their helicopter to evaluate options for completely stopping the flow of water at the top of the falls so that all of the voids behind the falls could be searched.
As planning was taking place for the next days operations crews began to remove the gear from the area for the night as other searchers continued to watch the falls. Just before dark they saw part of the victims body behind the falls and began efforts to recover the body. The water level had been dropping all day and appears that it finally got low enough to locate him. A rappeller again went down the falls to try and recover the victim. The victim was wedged in the rocks and they were unable get him out. Deputies along with an Idaho Fish and Game Officer will remain at the falls over night and efforts will resume at daylight. The dam was checked before dark and is currently still able to hold back most of the water and had several feet to go before water would spill over the spillway.
The Forest Service has issued a closure order for the Elk Creek Falls trail system. It is Order Number 01-17-52-19-007 and can be read in full on their web page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater/
The victim is Luis Diaz, 16 years old and he attended Deary High School but is actually from Bovill.
This search operation would not have been possible without the assistance of several agencies: Elk River Fire and Ambulance, Deary Fire and Ambulance, Latah County Sheriff's Office, Idaho County Sheriff's Office, Idaho State Police,Idaho Department of Fish and Game, US Forest Service, US Forest Service Law Enforcement, Clearwater County Sheriff's Search and Rescue and Back Country Medics.