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Man drowns trying to save his family in Spokane River

Two men drowned in separate instances over the weekend in the Spokane River. Both instances involved families with children on kayaks.
Drowning in Spokane River near Corbin Park

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — Three men drowned in the Spokane River last week during separate incidents.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has identified the two men who died in the Spokane River at Corbin Park last weekend.

The first was reported on Friday, June 26, where a man tried to save his family after their kayak capsized. That man has been identified as 35-year-old Gabriel Gardner of Spokane Valley.

On Saturday, 58-year-old James Cysewski of Hauser Lake launched a kayak into the water with two children onboard.

Once the kayak hit a set of rapids, it overturned and sent all three occupants into the water, according to a press release from Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Patrol.

The children were wearing life jackets and able to make it to shore. The man, who was not wearing a life jacket, did not come out of the water and could not be located.

After approximately four hours of searching, rescue crews were unable to locate the male, according to the press release.

The search was called off due to diver exhaustion, depleted resources, an unsafe conditions due to the time of night. Cysewski's body was recovered Sunday.

This is the second tragedy under very similar circumstances in as many days. KCSO advises citizens that people should not recreate in the Spokane River below the dam due to treacherous and constantly changing water conditions while the Avista Dam is open.

First drowning reported on Friday, June 26

Gardner died from trying to save his wife and child at Corbin Park near the Spokane River on Friday, authorities said. 

Kootenai County Sheriff's deputies and Kootenai County Fire and Rescue responded to a possible drowning at about 5:50 p.m. When crews arrived, they found a 35-year-old man, since identified as Gardner, had jumped into the water from shore where the kayak his wife and child were capsized in, according to the press release.

Deputies said the wife and child were safely rescued, but due to an error in communication, it was believed Gardner had also made it safely to shore. Shortly after family and friends searched for the Gardner, he was not found and believed to still be in the water.

At about 6:50 p.m., divers found Gardner and brought him to shore for medical evaluation.

KSCO said he was later pronounced dead at the scene. Gardner was not wearing a life jacket and it is unknown at this time if intoxication was an issue in this incident.

The investigation is ongoing at this time.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that the use of life jackets while recreating on the water saves lives. Additionally, please take additional safety precautions when in areas of moving water and heavy current. 

If you have further questions about safely recreating on the waters of Kootenai County, you are encouraged to contact the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office at 208-446-1300.

Man drowns in Spokane on Tuesday, June 23

According to the Spokane County Medical Examiner, 28-year-old Jaspreet Turna died from drowning in the Spokane River near the 3200 block of West Boone Avenue on June 23.

The manner of death was ruled accidental.

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