Flathead Lake swimmer killed by boat identified; family suffers 2nd tragedy

2012-09-10T05:55:00Z 2012-09-10T06:21:59Z Flathead Lake swimmer killed by boat identified; family suffers 2nd tragedyBy JENNA CEDERBERG of the Missoulian missoulian.com
September 10, 2012 5:55 am  • 

Officials have identified John Guard Darrah, 46, of Cambridge, Mass., as the man killed Friday on Flathead Lake after being hit by a powerboat.

Darrah was in Montana to help honor his wife’s stepfather, Ted Smith, who died Sept. 1 from a fall on a trail to Mission Falls in the Mission Dam Reservoir area outside St. Ignatius.

He was swimming roughly 300 feet offshore in Skidoo Bay when he was struck by a boat around 5:30 p.m. Friday, Lake County Sheriff’s Department public information officer Karen Sargeant said Sunday.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing and has been turned over to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials, Sargeant said.

“We’ll have to wait for the official investigation to wrap up (to release more details), but the the bottom line is (the boaters) did not see him and they began to render aid the moment they could,” Sargeant said.

Witnesses reported that Darrah was struck by the boat that was traveling west and had with multiple occupants. Officials have determined alcohol was not a factor.

Darrah was pronounced dead at the scene and his body has been transported to the state crime lab in Missoula. An official cause of death has not been released, Sargeant said.

It will be up to the county attorney’s office to determine if charges will be filed against the boat driver, Sargeant said.

“After Fish, Wildlife and Parks finishes its investigation, it will be forwarded to Lake County Attorney’s Office to see if charges were warranted, which is standard procedure,” she said.

According to an obituary submitted to the Missoulian on Sunday, Darrah was preceded in death by Smith.

Smith’s obituary lists Darrah as the spouse of Smith’s stepdaugther, Emily Newmann.

Smith, of the Polson area, was hiking with family members near the Garden Walls on Sept. 1 when he fell about 250 to 300 feet to the base of the cliff, the Lake County sheriff’s office said. His family members hiked back down the trail until they found someone with a cellphone and called 9-1-1.

Smith’s body was later recovered by a team made up of Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal police, tribal fire, tribal fish and game and tribal forestry departments, as well as the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Search and Rescue and the St. Ignatius Fire Department.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. wildmtn
    Report Abuse
    wildmtn - September 13, 2012 6:44 pm
    It makes me sad when visitors come to our beautiful State and get injured or killed and it is doubly so when they are here for something like this family. My heart goes out to each of them. We have to remember that we live with the dangers of living this close to the wilderness every day so it's easy to say that the swimmer shouldn't have been 300ft offshore or the boat should have been more careful or any mountain trail is fraught with life-threatening hazards or ALL wild animals are dangerous (ESPECIALLY a buffalo!! Have you seen that video???!!!!!!) But, our government cannot regulate all the danger out of our environment. Seemingly small decisions and choices are made by adults (who have that right) every day and sometimes they lead to tragedy There are designated swimming sites on the lake where boats are restricted but even if it were possible to designate them along all the miles of shoreline, there would be no way to monitor and enforce it. Two horribly tragic accidents have happened. My thoughts and prayers are with the family for their unimaginable loss.
  2. Alan Johnson
    Report Abuse
    Alan Johnson - September 10, 2012 5:34 pm
    I do9n't see them as nearly so careless as you are when you launch your uninformed opinions.
  3. taxi-mom
    Report Abuse
    taxi-mom - September 10, 2012 8:20 am
    we are boaters too and swimmers.... first off ,,, boaters must be very vigilant... swimmers are VERY hard to see ,,, swimmers need to use common sense ... 300 feet from shore ? WHY ? If there are speed boats OR fishing boats in the area you swim close to shore , wear something bright and be aware. Sad for the families of both parties .
  4. I'mafraidofAmericans
    Report Abuse
    I'mafraidofAmericans - September 10, 2012 7:12 am
    Thoughts and prayers to the family during this most difficult time.
  5. hellgatenights
    Report Abuse
    hellgatenights - September 09, 2012 10:51 pm
    Yes.......very tragic, and almost unbelievable lightening would strike this family twice, so to speak.

    In both cases, however, I see poor judgement as a primary factor. Not the boaters, not the trail.....just bad decisions with fatal consequences. You just do not swim offshore if boats are in the water.......swimmers are very difficult to see.

    I do sympathize with the boaters as well.......it does not appear that they were careless or acted in malice.

    Do people really make bad decisions? You tell me.....two years in a row a 70+ year old woman has drowned on the blackfoot .....rafting of course. Was it this spring when a russian visitor working at yellowstone slipped in and went over the falls?

    People seem to have lost their "Jungle instinct."

  6. LynnB
    Report Abuse
    LynnB - September 09, 2012 9:06 pm
    So tragic. Prayers for the family.
  7. lancebaier
    Report Abuse
    lancebaier - September 09, 2012 8:51 pm
    I have personally watched boat loads of people on that lake not paying attention to there driving visiting with there friends as they skim across the water. That is really close to shore not to be paying close attention. What would happen if this was on the street you and I both know the answer to that dont we. This makes it unsafe to swim in our lakes especially as the population grows. Montana is one of the cheapest states I have seen when it come to upgrading our boating and swimming areas. No control just let you go.
Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Silver's Lagoon fish stocking

Fish are stocked in Silver's Lagoon at McCormick Park in preparation for children's fishing derbies.

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston presents the latest news you need to know about today's h…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

Visual note-taking at Asia-Montana Energy Summit

Visual note-taking at Asia-Montana Energy Summit

Watch visual note-taker Alece Birnbach record a 90-minute seminar on global energy in 21 sec…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian reporter Kate Haake presents the latest news you need to know about today's headl…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

The 4:06 – trending topics and hot headlines

Missoulian digital director Emily Foster presents the latest news you need to know about tod…

Deals & Offers

loading...

Search our events calendar