A three year-old Stevensville boy has drowned in the Bitterroot River. 

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said the incident occurred on Friday afternoon near Bell Crossing.

"The child, his father, and his six year old brother were floating the river in an inflatable raft when the accident occurred, just north of Bell Crossing fishing access between Victor and Stevensville", Hoffman said. "The father told sheriff’s deputies that they had come to a fork in the river, and he attempted but was unable to paddle to shore to avoid a log jam.  The raft hit a log and flipped, ejecting all three occupants into the water and under the jam. The father and the six year old surfaced downstream of the log jam, but the three year old became trapped underneath. The boy’s father searched for several minutes before finding him and extricating him from the hazard. The father began CPR and was able to attract the attention of a person working in an adjacent field."

Hoffman said several emergency agencies responded to the scene at about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.

"The incident was called into the Ravalli County 911 Center, and Emergency Medical Services from Hamilton, Victor and Stevensville responded to Bell Crossing, along with Sheriff’s Deputies," he said.  "The boy was transported to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, and efforts to save his life continued late into the night, however, the boy was pronounced dead  at about 3 a.m. Saturday."

The sheriff's office is withholding the child's name until his family can be notified. Hoffman said the investigation into the fatal accident is ongoing.

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman