Body of missing teen found at Elk Creek Falls
The body of a missing 16-year-old was found Wednesday at Elk Creek Falls as the search continued with the aid of several organizations, according to Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz.
The victim is Luis Diaz, 16. He attended Deary High School, but is actually from Bovill, Goetz said.
The dam at Elk River Reservoir was blocked Wednesday morning and the flow was almost stopped. As the water was receding, a dive team and rope team prepared to search the area. The dive team, made up of a Clearwater County Sheriff's Deputy and 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 County Medics, then sent a rappeler 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 be seen until he got to it. He was not able to find the victim. A drone from 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 the 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 day's 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 victim's body behind the falls and began efforts to recover the body. The water level had been dropping all day and it appears that it finally got low enough to locate him. A rappeler again went down the falls to try and recover the victim the victim was wedged in the rocks and they were unable to get him out. Deputies along with an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Officer will remain at the falls overnight 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 issued a closure order for the Elk Creek Falls trail system. It is Order Number 01-17-52-007 and can be read in full on their web page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater/.
At about 3:23 p.m. Sunday the CCSO received a report of a person that had gone into Elk Creek Falls. The friends saw the teen fall to 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 and he had not been seen since.
Searchers on the ground were not able to locate him Sunday evening. Back Country 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, according to Goetz.
On Monday, divers with CCSO Search and Rescue searched below the lower pool of middle falls and dove in the lower pool to attempt to locate Diaz. They completed a search of the 23-foot-deep pool and did not locate him. Back Country Medics again flew the area along with a drone with no success.
Goetz said that 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.
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