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‘We will find him’: Family not giving up hope as crews continue to search the Payette River for missing floater

Family and volunteers have joined the Gem County Sheriff's Office in search for Everette Jackson, who went missing while floating the Payette River.

EMMETT, Idaho — The family of a man who went missing while floating the Payette River in Emmett said they are not giving up hope.

“I want to find him. I’m constantly, as we're walking I’m praying. Believing, I’m holding onto, we will find him,” said Meagan Jackson, the sister of Everette Jackson, who hasn't been seen since Saturday, June 11.

Jackson was visiting from Louisiana.  The Gem County Sheriff’s Office said he was floating the Payette River with a group on Saturday, when he missed the cutoff point to get out of the river.  A witness told the sheriff's office that they saw him go under the water and never come up. Sheriff Donnie Wunder told KTVB, right now, the flow is dangerous and that’s making the search for Jackson more difficult.

“The best time to float or raft is when it's about 1200 cfs [cubic feet per second]. and the night that he went into the water, the river was flowing a little over 10,000 cfs. Then Sunday, we got all the rain and Monday the water went clear up to 13,200 cfs,” Wunder said.

He added, the water has come down a little bit since then, but not enough.

"I had a helicopter up yesterday and they can't see anything,” Wunder said. “It's just like looking through chocolate milk, it's so dark right now."  

On Wednesday, volunteers also joined crews from the Gem County Sheriff's Office, along with fire and Jackson’s family, who flew in from Louisiana, searching on the ground and by boat.

“Mentally I’m drained, physically I’m tired, but I’m not giving up,” Meagan Jackson said. “I have hope, we're a strong spiritual family so we believe that he's there, that he will be found and we can bring him back home. He’s the glue to our family, we need him."

Credit: Poster shared via Facebook

While there were volunteers helping search for Jackson on Wednesday, the sheriff wants to warn folks that because the river is still very dangerous, he's urging people to only come out and help if you have experience with rescue or operating a boat. Otherwise he's asking folks to stay away from the river.

“If it was my child, I would, I mean I would be hopeful as I can, I’d want everybody that could come out and help, but this river, we got to be careful because I don't want any more people getting hurt,” Wunder said.

On Thursday, the Gem County Sheriff's Office flew its helicopter once again. Wunder told KTVB, as of Thursday afternoon, there were no new updates. It came as more volunteers, like Chris Stewart, joined the search efforts. 

"My hope is that we can get him home, we just want to get him home," Stewart said. "If you can imagine one of your loved ones in another state, not knowing where he is, this family did not know where Emmett, Idaho was a week ago and now this is the focal point of their existence."

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