MISSOULA, Mont. - The Missoula County Sheriff's Office has identified the 64- year old Missoula man who died on the Clark Fork River Friday as George Lee Meltzer. Missoula authorities had responded on Friday, October 11 at roughly 8:00 pm to reports of a drowning on the Clark Fork near the point the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers meet in Milltown.
A Coroner is still investigating the cause of death, though preliminary findings indicate that the cause of death is due to a pre-existing medical condition. Authorities say Meltzer was fishing from a raft with his family when the incident happened.
The man was airlifted by Life Flight and taken to St. Patrick hospital, and Missoula Rural Fire District Battalion Chief Greg Orr told NBC Montana that cold conditions and cold water made the response challenging.
Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen says Meltzer had worked at the Missoula Police Department with him, and later at the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula. Ibsen says Meltzer started at the police department roughly 40 years ago, and was a top-notch officer and investigator. Ibsen tells NBC Montana that word of Meltzer's death spread quickly, and the news hit the Missoula law enforcement community hard.
"He was an excellent officer, a real good mentor to all of us youngsters who were all one or two years younger than him…just a great man to work with," said Ibsen.