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College student drowns after helping 9-year-old cousin escape similar fate

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SALEM, Idaho — The Fremont County Sheriff’s office has released the name of a Brigham Young University-Idaho student who died following a canoeing accident near Salem on Monday morning.

Sjon Trent Johnson, 24, of Richmond, Texas, drowned after his canoe capsized and he was trapped on a log jam on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, according to a news release.

EastIdahoNews.com spoke with Joel Galbraith, a family member who was on the Memorial Day canoeing trip with Johnson.

Galbraith said the Snake River was much higher and faster than the family had anticipated. The river also held more debris than they had seen in previous trips.

About 15 minutes into the canoe float, the family hit a rough patch of water. Johnson’s canoe, which also contained his wife, Hannah Johnson, and a 9-year-old cousin, hit a partially submerged log that capsized the boat. Hannah Johnson, was washed down the river where she was able to get to shore, Galbraith said. The 9-year-old later told family members that Johnson helped her escape the debris and then she washed down river and was picked up by family members.

Galbraith was in a canoe behind Johnson trying to avoid the same incoming log jam.

“The river was moving very fast … I noticed one of them under the water and we passed over him,” he said. “There was no way to back-pedal for him.”

Galbraith got his canoe to shore. He and several other family members began making attempts to get to Johnson. Galbraith and his wife brought a canoe upriver and tried to reach Johnson, but that canoe capsized on the same debris. After struggling away from the canoe, Galbraith, his wife and two others were able to make it to the log jam where Johnson was located. They managed to pull him onto a log in the middle of the river. Galbraith said his pants appeared to have been caught on the underwater logs. They began administering CPR, but it was unsuccessful. At that point, Johnson had been under the water for about 10 minutes.

The Fremont Count Sheriff’s office, Search and Rescue and EMS along with Madison County’s Sheriff Department and EMS responded to the scene within 30 minutes of the accident.

The incident report from the Fremont Sheriff’s office shows first responders got to Johnson in a drift boat. He was taken to an island where emergency personnel began CPR again. After approximately 45 minutes the technicians did get a pulse back. Johnson was then rushed to Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Emergency personnel helped the remaining family members get off the log jam. Galbraith said the family is grateful for the assistance of emergency responders.

Funeral arrangements for Johnson have not yet been announced.

Source: East Idaho News