Troopers identify possible victim in river drowning

Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010

Alaska State Troopers say a man who disappeared in the Kenai River Wednesday may be a Soldotna man.

Robert Smithwick, 41, has not been seen since Wednesday, and troopers say Smithwick's vehicle was found left near The Pillars boat launch.

Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said that man's description matched the shirtless fisherman who witnesses reported they saw slip below the surface of the river.

The troopers plan to conduct search with two dogs downstream of the boat launch on Saturday. She said that the extent of the search depends on when the dogs and their handlers fly in from Anchorage.

"Unfortunately the water level is very high and there will be tons of people there tomorrow," she said. "But we'll do what we can."

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday, a 911 dispatcher heard that a middle-aged male had fallen into the river. Witnesses said that the man passed a boat before slipping below the surface.

-Staff Report

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