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Fisherman drowns after boat capsizes in Bitterroot River near Darby

Drowning - Generic
042224 BITTERROOT RIVER DROWNING
John Brewer, is shown this June 2023 photo.
Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 22, 2024

HAMILTON — The man who died has been identified as John Brewer of Port Angeles, Washington; he was 76 years old.

Brewer worked as a journalist for decades in the Port Angeles area.

"John was really the consummate, professional journalist. When he moved to Port Angeles in the late 90s and took over the Peninsula Daily News he brought a 'larger market' approach to the paper, but quickly embraced the community's tone and concerns," said former MTN News reporter Dennis Bragg, who worked alongside Brewer for many years in Washington.

"During our years of working together, the Olympic Peninsula was repeatedly in the spotlight for several major national, and international stories, but John's professionalism always helped to keep the coverage grounded to what people needed to hear from the local media, while still being competitive," Bragg recalled. "We had frequent discussions about the ethics of those stories, and I enjoyed our joint ventures covering local politics."

John Brewer, is shown this June 2023 photo.
John Brewer in a June 2023 photo.

"In succeeding years after I moved to Montana, I could always count on John's Facebook posts to keep me apprised of local developments, even in the years after his retirement. So I was heartbroken to learn of his passing over the weekend," Bragg concluded.

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton says two other fishermen in the boat with Brewer when it capsized made it to shore, but Brewer got caught up in the current. The other fishermen pulled Brewer out of the water downstream of the accident and started CPR.

Emergency crews arrived on the scene, but despite continued lifesaving efforts, Brewer died at the scene.


(1st REPORT) A fisherman died on Friday, April 19, 2024, after the boat he was in capsized in the Bitterroot River north of Darby.

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton says 76-year-old John Brewer of Port Angeles, Washington, drowned after the boat he was in tipped over in a log jam.

Two other fishermen in the boat when it capsized were able to make it to shore, but the victim got caught in the current.

Sheriff Holton says the other fishermen pulled Brewer out of the water downstream of the accident and started CPR.

The Darby Volunteer Fire Department, Ravalli County Search & Rescue, and Ravalli County Sheriff's Officer responded to the scene, but despite continued lifesaving efforts, Sheriff Holton says Brewer died at the scene.