Challenges of Finding Missing Swimmer During Fireworks Show

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Updated: 7/08/2013 10:09 am
The search for an Idaho Falls man that drowned attempting to swim to Keefer's Island in the Snake River continued into the early morning hours.

Lloyd Westbrook II went missing last night at about 9:30. Crews from the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, Bonneville County Search and Rescue, Idaho Falls Police Department and the Idaho Falls Fire Department responded to the scene and attempted to locate Westbrook.

"The biggest thing is when you have a lot of people like that watching, it's not that they're watching that we're concerned about, it's whether they're going to take action and try to jump in to do anything else, and then what that tends to do is it adds to the complexity of the situation, cuz now we've got to worry about this person in the water as compared to trying to find the victim that's in the water," said Lieutenant James Foster of the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office.

Not only did the emergency crews have to worry about the thousands of spectators, they also had to search for Westbrook in the dark. If that weren't enough, they also had to deal with the cell phone bandwidth not being enough to allow clear communication between rescuers.

"When you have this amount of people and everything's routed to one tower, well that tower then has to find a different tower to route to, so that tower was definitely taxed out maxed to it's capabilities," added Foster.

After about an hour and a half of searching the firework show started, but the diving crews did not stop looking for Westbrook.

Foster continued to say, "we used a sonar is how we actually located him, and for the sonar to work we can't have extra splashes going in the water, you know, we have to have that situation to where it's a little bit calmer than when there's 50,000 people down here on the side of the bank of the river."

Westbrook was located at 1:10 a.m. in around 10 feet of water in the current.

"The biggest thing about this story is, people have to remember that if you're going to recreate in the water, to always wear your life preserver," said Foster.

Westbrook was with a friend at the time he started to go under water.
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