An Idaho State University assistant track and field coach was one of three electrocuted in a Bingham County Canal Thursday night.
The dispatch center with the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office received a call requesting assistance in locating Jacquelyn R. Poulson, 31, who had been missing for three hours. Poulson had left her residence looking for the family dog. When she didn’t return, a group of neighbors and family members went looking for her.
Six Bingham County Sheriff’s Deputies along with members of Search and Rescue responded to the area. Police made automated emergency calls to surrounding residents alerting them about the missing person. The search was called off around 10:50 PM when the bodies of three individuals along with the dog were found in an irrigation ditch approximately 50 yards from the residence.
Jacquelyn Poulson had apparently entered the canal after the dog when the two of them were electrocuted. An irrigation pump in the immediate area apparently shorted out electrifying the water. Michael Lance Hicks, 41, of Blackfoot and Preston Keith Tarpley, 49, apparently entered the water in an attempt to rescue Poulson when they too were electrocuted.
Idaho Power Company responded and shut off all power in the immediate area before rescuers could enter the water and recover the bodies.
According to a press release from the ISU Athletic Department, Poulson had been a member of the Idaho State family for over 12 years where she attended school and competed as a track and field student-athlete before becoming a coach.
“She was the pride of our program,” Idaho State track and fifeld coach Dave Nielsen said. “She was like daughter to me. This is so untimely and tragic that I just don’t know what else to say.”
Poulson was going into her ninth year as an assistant coach where she assisted coach Dave Nielsen in training multi-event athletes. Poulson was a two-time All-American and Big Sky champion in the heptathlon. She also served as the recruiting coordinator for the track and field team. She holds the Idaho State University records in the 400-meter hurdles and coached All-American Cassie Merkley who broke Poulson’s heptathlon record during the 2008 season.
She was a participant in the Olympic Trials in 2004 and has competed in the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Italy. She also competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials taking eighth in the heptathlon with 5,741 points. Poulson scored a career-high 5,538 points in the heptathlon while at ISU and has scored a personal best of 5,804 points in post-collegiate competition.
Poulson is from American Falls, where she attended American Falls High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Idaho State University in 2003. She was working on her master’s in health education and getting her teacher’s certificate.
“Jackie Poulson influenced the lives of so many of our student-athletes in such a positive manner,” Idaho State Director of Athletics Jeff Tingey said. “She was a true Bengal and an example to us all.”