2:08 PM PDT, August 16, 2021
The co-founder of a paddleboarding company is presumed to have drowned in Idaho’s Payette River near a rapid known as “Go left or you’re fired” during a freak paddleboarding accident, officials said.
The 36-year-old man identified as Nicholas Zawadzki was last seen on Monday, August 9 around 6:30 p.m. going through the rapids before he went underwater and never resurfaced, the Boise County Sheriff’s Office said, according to NBC-affiliate, KTVB 7 News.
Zawadzki was standing up on his paddleboard in a section of the river that he has paddle boarded hundreds of times, according to Zawadzki’s brother, Jason Zawadzki, who was on the river when the accident occurred according to The Idaho Statesman.
Zawadzki told The Statesman that he and his brother, Nicholas co-founded the outdoor sporting company Hydrus Board in 2013, and said that his brother was “one of the best whitewater paddleboarders around.” He said that there was “no real explanation for” the accident, People reported.
“Just one-in-a-billion chance bad luck,” Jason told the news outlet. “It was his time to go.”
The location was near milepost 77 on Highway 55, just south of Banks-Lowman Road intersection in Boise County, according to KTVB.
Crews from two different rafting companies, Cascade Raft and Kayak and the Bear Valley Rafting Company were joined by Boise police and the Garden Valley Fire department searched the Payette River for Zawadzki until dusk the day he went missing. A helicopter was also used in the search, the Boise County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Sheriff Scott Turner said he did not know if Zawadzki “got hung up or just pulled under.” His helmet and life jacket have surfaced, The Statesman reported.
Jason Zawadzki told the news outlet that he was going to “try and get the dam operators to lower the water level” that may help rescuers locate his brother.