Boise & Garden City

Update: Boise man dies after being pulled from river

Rescue crews scan the Boise River Thursday evening looking for a man reported floating in the river. The man was located a short time later.
Rescue crews scan the Boise River Thursday evening looking for a man reported floating in the river. The man was located a short time later. Provided by KBOI-TV, Channel 2

Michael Rhodes, 69, was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. Thursday after he was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

The Ada County Coroner’s Office listed his cause of death as drowning in a release sent out Friday.

Garden City police are investigating his death, including how he came to be in the Boise River in the first place. So far, there are no witnesses who saw Rhodes go into the water, police said Friday.

Rhodes was reportedly in the river for about an hour, from the time he was first spotted in the water near East 36th Street and Whitewater Park to the point he was pulled from the river at 41st Street, police said.

Safety advice from Boise Fire Department: Watch for closures and detours along the Greenbelt due to high water. Existing river-related closures can be found on the city of Boise’s website. Do not enter the river for recreation at all right now. Keep your pets on a leash near the river so that they don’t chase other animals into the water. If someone gets into trouble, call 911 right away. Dispatchers will need to know how many people are in the water and as many details about your location as possible. Give the closest street, bridge or park, for example. Along with dangers posed by the swift current, the cold temperature will make it harder for someone in the river to swim out due to loss of motor control, and debris can injure swimmers as well. Water levels are approaching bridge height, according to the city, meaning it may be impossible to pass under some bridges.

The first report, shortly after 5 p.m., was that a man was in the river in apparent distress. As officers searched the area downstream from that sighting, they got another call about a body floating in the river, police said, but crews couldn't get to the area from the bank.

The Boise Fire Department launched a rescue boat, jet ski and dive team and began searching the area. The rescue boat located Rhodes around 6 p.m. and pulled him from the water, beginning life-saving efforts. Boise Fire Department spokeswoman Tammy Barry said Rhodes was in cardiac arrest when he was pulled from the river.

Fire and police agencies warned people to stay away from the river until water levels are lower.

"The Boise River water level is extremely high and flowing very fast at this time," Garden City Lt. Tom Patterson said. "Even though the water may look appealing right now, it is very deceiving and dangerous. ... The current water levels make rescue difficult and dangerous for first responders.”