News Release

Columbia Falls Man Dies in Water Accident

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Date: August 31, 2020
Contact: Gina Kerzman, 406-888-5838

WEST GLACIER, Mont. [August 31, 2020] – On Saturday, August 29 at approximately 5:42 p.m., Glacier National Park rangers responded to a report of CPR in progress near Glacier Rim on the North Fork of the Flathead River.

North Valley Rescue met rangers at Glacier Rim and provided jet boat transport to Fool Hen Rapids, approximately 2 miles up-river. When rangers arrived, A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance staff was already on scene with Ronald Newton, a 62-year-old man from Columbia Falls, Montana who flipped his fishing pontoon boat while floating the river with a group, submerged in the water, and became unconscious. 

More than an hour of CPR was performed before efforts were terminated. Newton was declared deceased, but cause of death is still unknown.

Witness reports state the group was floating the river Saturday when two pontoon boats tied together became stuck on a rock. Newton attempted to free the boats when his own watercraft flipped, and he submerged in the water. A friend recovered Newton from the water and several bystanders initiated CPR on a nearby gravel bar. Reports indicate he was not wearing a personal flotation device (pfd) or helmet at the time of the incident.

Glacier National Park thanks North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Blankenship Rural Fire District, and A.L.E.R.T. for their assistance in this rescue effort.

Last updated: August 31, 2020

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West Glacier , MT 59936



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