Randy French’s family held out hope for almost a year and a half that he would be found.
Authorities believe the 54-year-old, who worked at the Idaho Tax Commission in Boise, crashed his truck into the Salmon River north of Riggins on June 30 last year.
But after countless hours of searching along the banks of the river in Idaho County and several dive team attempts to find him in the water, they have decided it’s time to hold the memorial service that they put off in the hopes of finding his body.
“Apparently, it’s not gonna happen,” said one of French’s two older sister’s, Sherry. “We did a dive in August. Were told by the U.S. Swift Water Recovery Team that it was just too dangerous to carry on any kind of search in the river, and they wouldn’t be coming back.”
Friends of French are invited to share memories at a gathering at noon Saturday at the Firehouse Pub, 1767 Franklin Road in Meridian.
“We all have lots of stories because my brother was a character. We hope to tell some stories and just say goodbye,” Sherry French said. “It’s kind of a farewell or goodbye.”
Though French and his truck were never found, pieces of his truck and some of personal items were found in and along the river, including: a license plate, his CPAP machine, his gun, the skin of one of the truck doors and a piece of one of the mirrors.
“We found the part of the mirror that says ‘objects are closer than they appear’ but just the ‘closer’ part,” Sherry French said. Her daughter is putting it on a necklace for her.
The private search for French was extensive, costing between $20,000 and $30,000, Sherry French estimated. The Minnesota-based Jon Francis Foundation provided financial assistance and resources, bringing in search teams, cadaver dogs and a professional swift water dive team.
The foundation was established by David Francis, the father of 24-year-old Minnesotan Jon Francis, who died while hiking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. David Francis was personally involved in the search for Randy French, traveling to Idaho to participate.
“I don’t think we could have done it without him,” Sherry French said. “To see him out there at the side of the river, just staring at it all day long. He was so personally involved. He wanted to find him as bad as my family did.”
Idaho rivers can be unforgiving. Four young hunters went missing in the Selway River in Idaho County during an early-morning crash May 21. Remains of two of the hunters were found within a few weeks but the other two, brothers Raymond P. Ferrieri, 24, and Jesse A. Ferrieri, 21, both of Mahapac Falls, New York, have not been found.
Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413