An expert kayaker from Wilton who went missing Tuesday in Cascade, Idaho, has been identified as 19-year-old Stephen Forster and is now presumed dead, according to the Valley County Sheriff's Office in Cascade.
The Wilton resident and longtime kayaker apparently got sucked into a "hydraulic hole and drowned," according to Office Operations Supervisor Lt. Dan Smith of the Cascade sheriff's office.
Early reports indicated that the teen, who has been an active paddler for more than a decade, was in a strongly flowing area in the Payette River when he disappeared in the rapids.
Forster was reported to be an "expert kayaker" by friends with him in Idaho and was wearing a life vest and a helmet, according to the Cascade sheriff's office.
Forster's kayak and paddle as well as his life vest were recovered from the river several miles from where he was last seen, though search efforts have failed to locate his body.
The elevated and rapid waters, worsened by a recent spring thaw, have made the river too dangerous for emergency officials to continue their search, Smith said in a statement Thursday.
Deputies and EMS members from Cascade Rural Fire as well as a Forest Service officer from the Cascade Ranger District responded and assisted in the search, along with friends of Forster, the sheriff's office said.
Forster spent two years at Wilton High School before transferring to New River Academy, a college preparatory school for whitewater kayaking in Fayetteville, W.Va. Reports indicated Forster loved extreme kayaking and videography so much he studied the subjects at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
Attempts to reach Forster's family Thursday were unsuccessful.
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