HELENA — A 58-year-old man has died from suspected drowning after falling off a jet-ski on Hauser Lake by the Causeway.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff and Coroner Leo Dutton says dispatch received calls shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Sunday involving individuals on a jet-ski in trouble near Bay View Drive.
According to witnesses, a man, woman and their dog were on the jetski when it tipped over.
Neither rider was wearing a life jacket.
Dutton says the woman was able to grab the dog and began to swim to shore.
“A citizen from the shore saw that they were in peril, grab some lifejackets and put one on and swam out to the female, got a life jacket on her,” Dutton said. “And then went to look for the male and he had already descended below the water level.”
Dutton noted a lot of people attempted to aid in the man’s rescue but were unsuccessful.
Multiple agencies responded to the call including Fish, Wildlife and Parks, volunteer fire agencies and Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue.
The search and rescue dive team recovered the body of the deceased man and an autopsy is being performed at the Missoula crime lab.
The name of the man is not being released at this time so his family can be notified.
Dutton strongly encourages everyone out on the water to have a life jacket, and believes the actions of the person who put on a life jacket and then swam out to the jet-ski with two other life jackets were key in saving the woman.
“The voluntary citizen probably saved a life that day. Just by being observant, watching what was going on and thinking before acting,” noted Dutton. “I want to say thank you to that person who more than likely saved the female and I know they were also trying to save the male. But you can’t do it all at once and it was a hard swim.”