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Fugitive drowns while fleeing law enforcement in Flathead County

Flathead County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 26, 2024

KALISPELL — A fugitive wanted out of North Carolina drowned last week while fleeing law enforcement in Flathead County.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office reports they received information on June 20 that 35-year-old Steven Jeffrey O’Shields of Franklin, North Carolina might be in the Kalispell and Evergreen areas.

O’Shields had felony warrants for his arrest on several charges including burglary, theft of services, and sexual battery against a child, according to a news release. O’Shields was also reported as a non-compliant sexual offender.

According to a news release, law enforcement wasn’t able to find O’Shields but then received a tip at approximately 7 p.m. on June 21 that O’Shields was on foot at the Big Creek Campground in the North Fork area.

Deputies responded to the area and saw O’Shields walking south on the North Fork Road, near mile marker 11. According to the Sheriff’s Office, O’Shields fled into the woods heading toward the Flathead River.

Deputies saw O’Shields wading into the river and then struggling to stay above water. Law enforcement couldn’t reach O’Shields who was last seen going around a bend just south of the Glacier Rim.

A search continued for O’Shields whose body was eventually spotted by Two Bear Air under the water near the Blankenship Bridge.

North Valley Search and Rescue crews recovered O’Shields’s body, which was taken to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula so that an autopsy could be performed.

The Montana Department of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating this incident at the request of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.

No additional information is being released at this time.