ONTARIO, Ore. -- Crews continue to search the Snake River after a jet boat capsized on Friday night, throwing its three occupants into the water.
The men in the boat were 42-year-old Charles W. Gissel of Ontario, 43-year-old Eric Meyerhofer of Payette, who both made it to shore. With them was 42-year-old Ricky M. Flores of Caldwell, who has not been seen since.
The Wallowa County Sheriff's Office said the boat capsized just before 7 p.m. Friday while attempting to negotiate the Wild Sheep rapids, eight miles north of the Hells Canyon Dam.
All three men are employees at Snake River Correctional Institution, a medium security prison near Ontario. However, they were out on their personal time when the incident happened.
Ricky M. Flores started with the department as a correctional officer in August 1998. Snake River Correctional Institution Superintendent Mark Nooth found about the situation on Saturday afternoon.
I think everyone is kind of managing this and hoping and praying for the best, said Nooth, but we all have a heavy heart.
Nooth said Flores was a role model for inmates and co-workers.
He was extremely well-liked. He was the union vice president. He was the type of employee that always had a pleasant thing to say about folks, Nooth said. I think as I'm going about my duties and touring the facility, he was the type of person that never had a bad thing to say about anybody.
Nooth said Flores has positive interactions with the inmates and the other officers.
If an officer needed a ride to work, or had car trouble, or those kind of things, he was always there to lend a hand, he said.
Folks at SRCI say the mood at the institution, particularly in the Special Housing Unit where Flores works, is gloomy and the depression is palpable.
We kind of have what we call a 'correctional family,' and we all work in a pretty challenging environment and we're here to support each other, and I think that we've done nothing but support those folks, and as they go through this process we're supportive, Nooth said.
The Wallowa County Sheriff's Office said the search for Flores is difficult because the water level is very high this time of year. Idaho Power is helping out by trying to lower water levels.
Searchers found some debris they believe is from the boat, but the have not been able to locate the boat or Ricky Flores. Deputies said it is unusual that they have not located the boat yet, but will continue to have divers in the water.
Flores' co-workers have set up a fund to help his family. You can give by going to any US Bank locations and contributing to the Ricky M. Flores fund.