TWIN FALLS — Two canoeists who were given $85 tickets for not carrying life jackets as they recovered a suicide victim’s body Sunday from the Snake River have had their citations dismissed.
The Twin Falls County prosecutor declined to file cases Wednesday against Dennis Bohrn and Michael Futrell, both of whom were cited for failing to carry a personal flotation device.
When Bohrn, his girlfriend, Futrell and Futrell’s wife arrived at the shore with the woman’s body, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daron Brown looked inside their canoes, did not see life jackets and issued two citations — one for each canoe.
“My husband, who is the one that held the girl until we could make it to shore and was affected the most by all of this, they didn’t show much compassion toward him,” said Amber Futrell. “He just seemed very callous toward the situation. At the time, you don’t think about any of this stuff because you are going through such a traumatic event.”
Amber said she appreciated the gesture by the prosecutor’s office.
“The fact that they did recognize it was a traumatic event and they are making a special contribution in that way is nice,” Amber said. “As much as we can, we would like to put it behind us — although we probably never will — and focus on what’s important to us. To be grateful for what we have.”
Brown did not immediately ticket the group, wrote Nancy Howell, Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, in a Wednesday evening press release. First, Brown asked them if they were carrying life jackets, to which they answered, "no."
Leaving the body behind at the shore with emergency responders, the canoeists headed to the Centennial Park boat dock to load their canoes.
While they loaded their canoes, Brown asked them to come to his patrol boat after they finished.
”We didn’t get the tickets right then and there,“ Michael Futrell said. ”(Brown) said, ’Under normal circumstances I would not give you a ticket here.’ "
Brown felt compelled to cite them because a woman was present whom he had recently cited for not carrying a life vest, Michael Futrell said.
”I felt that they did do it exactly right,“ he said. ”Yeah, it was kind of a bad deal. But the sheriff’s department got kind of a bad rap. But after hearing (deputies may give warnings), that situation down there should have been a verbal warning.“
But Brown could have acted more draconian than he did, according to Howell.
”A total of three citations per boat could have been issued for safety violations, but due to the circumstances he only issued one,“ Howell wrote.
Howell declined to further comment about the additional infractions for which the group could have been cited.
Following the prosecutor’s decision, Magistrate Roger Harris dismissed the two cases without prejudice.
”(Brown) has dragged a lot of people without life vests out of the river,“ said Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs. ”His citation was a legal citation. With regard to when he gave it, these people were trying to help out, and, given what they were trying to do and given the situation they were in, Ithink they get the picture and that justice is served by giving them a warning in this case.“