44-year old Colleen Nelson was celebrating the fourth of July holiday with a float trip on the Blackfoot River east of Missoula.
Deputies said she got stuck in a logjam.
Her nephew managed to free her, but officials said strong currents sucked her underwater.
A fisherman found her down river and tried to revive her, but she later died at the hospital.
"She was just a great wonderful woman," Dwyer Elementary School teacher Keena Novak said.
Nelson was born and raised in Anaconda and worked at Dwyer Elementary School with Novak.
Novak grew up with Nelson and worked closely with her.
"She was such a fun and loving person, caring, she would help anybody out," Novak said.
According to Novak, Nelson was planning to teach 4th grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Anaconda starting in the fall.
Novak said Nelson will always be remembered for how much she loved children and loved to teach.
She said Nelson was currently helping out with Dwyer’s summer school program.
Nelson’s section in summer school was teaching nursery rhymes.
"That was one of her passions actually. She thought that children now in days did not grow up learning nursery rhymes and she thought that was great to get more nursery rimes into the home," Novak said.
Novak said her favorite nursery rhyme was "Hey Diddle, Diddle," and could often be heard singing in it and teaching it to the students.
Father Tim Moriarty was Nelson's pastor at Anaconda Catholic Community and said the community will support the family in any way they can.
"There are many times we just can't explain things that happen, but we have such a wonderful community here we really rally around people who are hurting in any way," Father Moriarty said.
In Anaconda the mourning has just begun.
Funeral services for Colleen Nelson will be held Monday, July 9th at 10:30 am at Anaconda Catholic Community.