Friday, July 19, 2024

Drowning victims in Glacier National Park identified

| July 10, 2024 2:32 PM

Officials identified the two individuals who drowned in Glacier National Park on July 6 as 26-year-old Siddhant Vitthal Patil from India and 28-year-old Raju Jha of Nepal.

Patil was hiking above the gorge on Avalanche Lake Trail and left the trail, park officials said. While standing on a large rock, he fell into Avalanche Creek. 

It remains unclear if he slipped on a wet rock or lost his balance, officials said. Friends and witnesses saw him fall into the creek, go underwater and resurface briefly before being swept up by the current and into the gorge. 

The A.L.E.R.T. helicopter conducted aerial searches of the creek for Patil and rangers scoured the area, both without success. Patil is presumed dead, officials said, and rangers suspect that the body is being held down by submerged obstacles such as fallen trees or rocks. 

Rangers monitoring the area have recovered personal items that have washed downstream. The water in the gorge is unsearchable due to depth and turbulence, creating whitewater conditions, officials said.  

Rangers on Wednesday flew a drone to determine the location of the body, but the effort proved unsuccessful. Ground search efforts continue from the gorge to the bridge on Trail of the Cedars. 

Patil was living and working in California and on vacation with friends. 

Jha drowned while swimming Saturday evening in Lake McDonald near Sprague Creek Campground. According to friends, he was an inexperienced swimmer and was about 30 yards out when he started to struggle. Jha went underwater and never resurfaced, officials said. 

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office dive team responded and recovered the body at about 8:20 p.m. 

Jha was living in Portland, Oregon and vacationing with friends.