Body of Missing Rafter Recovered, Search Continues for Man With Her

Search and rescue crews who earlier recovered the body of a Tacoma, Wash., woman will continue their search Wednesday for a Helena man who was with her on a raft that capsized in the swollen and fast-moving Dearborn River.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson identified the dead woman as 48-year-old Melody Alvestad.

Sheriff Cheryl Liedle said the woman's body was found about noon Monday, not far from where another member of her rafting party was rescued Sunday night. Jason Grimmis, deputy sheriff for Lewis and Clark County, identified the rescued man as 55-year-old Lanny O'Leary. Grimmis declined to identify the missing man.

Alvestad, O'Leary and the missing Helena man were part of a three-raft group of seven people, most of them from the Helena area, Liedle said.

The search-and-rescue work that began Sunday night included a Homeland Security helicopter that carried eight people and made an emergency landing late Sunday because the rotor touched a tree, Liedle said. No one on the helicopter was injured.

Liedle said four of the seven rafters reached land safely after Sunday's capsizing. Her office received a call for help Sunday evening.

O'Leary was rescued shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday, received medical attention at a Great Falls hospital and was released, Liedle said.

The National Weather Service said the Dearborn River at Craig surpassed its flood stage of 6.5 feet on Saturday and crested at 8.5 feet on Sunday night, then began to drop.