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

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

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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.

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