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Contact: Denise Germann, 406 888 5838
The woman that fell into McDonald Creek on Saturday, July 12, Abigail Sylvester, 33 years old from Buckley, Washington, died Sunday, July 13, as a result of the incident. The cause of death was drowning.
At approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, park dispatch was notified that a woman fell into McDonald Creek, near the upper falls, and was being carried downstream.
Initial investigation indicates Buckley was with her husband along McDonald Creek, near the bridge below the upper McDonald Creek Falls, when she slipped and fell into the creek. It is believed she was taking photos when she slipped. The creek current swept her downstream. Her husband jumped into the creek in an attempt to save her, but had to self-rescue himself to the creek bank due to deep and fast-moving water at this location.
A visitor on an interpretive tour in the area saw the woman being carried downstream and the interpretive park ranger leading the tour notified park dispatch of the situation. Park rangers responded to find the woman near the outlet of McDonald Creek into Lake McDonald, approximately ½ mile from where she fell in. She was carried over Lower McDonald Creek Falls, approximately 30 feet in height.
Several visitors provided assistance during the incident. A father, mother and teenage son, traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, were aware of the incident and went to the bridge near the Lower McDonald Creek Falls to search for the woman. The father, a volunteer fireman, spotted something believed to be the woman. He waded into the creek, and began swimming in waist-deep water as he was able to retrieve her. His son helped get her on a small island. The father and son, two other male visitors, and park rangers assisted with and performed CPR .
Three Rivers Ambulance and ALERT responded to the scene. ALERT transported the woman to Kalispell Regional Medical Center in Kalispell.
Park rangers are conducting an investigation.
Park visitors are reminded to use caution around all bodies of water. Water is cold, fast moving and high in most places at this time, and rocks can be very slippery. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the park.