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Helena teen dies while swimming at Canyon Ferry

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A 17-year-old Helena High School student died Saturday evening while swimming at Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

The boy and other teens were swimming at the Crittenden day use area on the northwest side of the reservoir when the current became too strong for him to get back to shore, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said. The boy was reportedly not a strong swimmer, he said.

Crittenden day use area

The boy and other teens were swimming at the Crittenden day use area on the northwest side of the reservoir when the current became too strong for him to get back to shore, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

“It is a very safe place to swim, but the winds are erratic and caused larger waves than normal,” he said.

Emergency responders were dispatched just before 4:20 p.m. and the search for the boy's body lasted about two hours, Dutton said. The cause and manner of death will be determined during an autopsy, he said.

Units from Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue, the Lewis and Clark County Water Emergency Team and the Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department responded.

The name of the deceased has not yet been released, and the case remains under investigation.

The boy was a junior at Helena High and all students were being informed of his death Monday, according to a letter from the school district to parents. Additional counselors are at the school to help students in need. 

"Whether they knew the student or not, many times these events can trigger emotions that are seemingly unrelated," the letter says. "We rely on your eyes and ears to check on your children in order to keep us informed should they need any additional support."

Editor Jesse Chaney can be reached at 406-447-4074, or find him on Twitter: @IR_JesseChaney. 

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