ELK CREEK FALLS — Search crews Wednesday night discovered the body of the 16-year-old Deary High School student who had been missing since he fell down Elk Creek Falls on Sunday afternoon.
According to a Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office news release, the body of Luis Diaz, of Bovill, was wedged in rocks and crews were unable to remove him Wednesday.
Deputies, along with an Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer, will remain at the falls overnight and efforts to retrieve Diaz’s body will resume at daylight today.
The release states crews started to remove gear from the area Wednesday night while other searchers continued to watch the falls when, just before dark, they saw part of Diaz’s body behind the falls.
Rick Miller, incident commander for the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team, said personnel worked to reduce the flow in Elk Creek to lower the water level of the 23-foot-deep pool.
Crews blocked the Elk River Reservoir dam Wednesday morning and almost stopped the flow, the release said.
As a result, Miller said the pool level receded to about 22 feet Wednesday.
The water level had been dropping all day, according to the release, and appears that it finally got low enough to locate Diaz.
A rappeller went down the falls to try to recover the victim, but was unable to because of the body’s position in the rocks.
Crews checked the dam before dark and it was still able to hold back most of the water and had several feet to go before water would pour over the upstream spillway at Elk Creek Reservoir.
Seven agencies assisted in the search efforts Wednesday. Miller said two divers searched the pool below the middle falls before a member of a rope team rappelled to search along and behind the falls.
The person rappelling was unable to search all of the areas because of the waterflow, the release stated.
A detection dog and a drone team were also on scene and Back Country Medics used a helicopter to evaluate options for completely stopping the waterflow at the top of the falls so all of the voids behind the falls could be searched.
Miller said the Elk Creek Falls area remains closed to the public until further notice.
Diaz was with a small group of friends hiking around the falls Sunday afternoon when he apparently slipped and went over the edge into the pool, which Miller said is about 25 feet in width.
The initial news release from the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office Monday states Diaz’s friends saw him fall but did not see him again after he entered the water. The sheriff’s office received the report shortly before 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
On Sunday, the Back Country Medics flight crew used its helicopter to search for Diaz, but had to leave the area because of fog. On Monday, Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue searched the pool with divers and Back Country Medics flew the area again. A drone was also used in the search.
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