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Cause of Death Released for Victim Recovered From Clark Fork River [AUDIO]

Clark Fork recovery
photo by Peter Christian

The Missoula County Coroner has released a report on the cause and manner of death of the 71 year-old man whose vehicle went into the Clark Fork River on June 10.

Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone said Melvin Beedle’s death was accidental drowning, and not suicide.

“The coroner has not ruled out a mechanical problem, but the big question was, was it a suicide?” Pavalone said. “That option has been ruled out. The coroner said there may have been some medical issues that were a part of what happened.”

Pavalone said there was a detailed investigation regarding the timeline of what happened up to the moment that Beedle’s vehicle drove into the river.

“The coroner did speak with a lot of people that were close to Beedle, and basically tracked his footsteps,” Pavalone said. “He determined that suicide was not the cause of death and that it was accidental, and that makes it truly tragic.”

Witnesses saw Beedle’s vehicle jump the curb at the Taco John’s parking lot, go down the embankment and into the swollen, fast-moving river, where it quickly disappeared under the water. Fire department and eventually search and rescue crews spent that afternoon and evening searching for the vehicle, and it was eventually found snagged on a support beneath the Montana Rail Link ┬átrain trestle. The next morning, in a dramatic effort by fire department and search and rescue personnel, Beedle’s body was recovered from inside the vehicle while it was still in the river. The vehicle itself was recovered about an hour later.

No one was injured during the recovery effort.

Missoula Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone

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