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Powell man dies in North Fork boat accident

Updated, 6 p.m. Friday: A Powell man died Wednesday morning after a boat accident in the North Fork of the Shoshone River.

Park County Coroner Tim Power identified the victim on Friday as Earl Le Blanc, 77. Funeral services for Le Blanc have been scheduled for Monday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. at St. Barbara's Catholic Church in Powell.

Le Blanc and two other men, also in their 70s — one also from Powell and one from Texas — were floating the Shoshone in a rigid drift boat west of Wapiti, said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward on Wednesday afternoon. An oar lock on the boat broke shortly after being put in the water, but the men stopped, went ashore and fixed it, according to one of the men. After relaunching, the boat later got hung up on a rock, at which point the two companions discovered that Le Blanc was no longer in the boat.

The two initially thought they saw Le Blanc swimming to safety, but they later saw him in shallow water, not moving, the sheriff said.

The surviving man from Powell made it to the river bank and was able to reach a house and call for help just before 9:45 a.m. The man then went to Le Blanc's body downstream and tried to revive him, but CPR was unsuccessful, Steward said.

Park County Search and Rescue responders helped locate and aid the two surviving men, who were checked out by emergency personnel, and recover Le Blanc's body, Steward said.

After some confusion among search and rescue team members about the location of the third man, he was located farther upstream around noon on Wednesday.

Under state statute, since the incident involved a watercraft, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will handle the investigation.

Steward said an autopsy was being performed Wednesday to determine the cause of death.

Editor's note: This version of the story has been updated with first-hand information about what happened.

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