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Water safety emphasized after two recent drownings in Cascade County

Water safety emphasized after two recent drownings
Water safety emphasized after two recent drownings
Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 08:39:30-04

A Great Falls man is being remembered for his friendly nature. Leon Simpson drowned last week while fishing, the second drowning death in less than a week.

"It was just surreal. I didn't know what to say,” said Pondera County Sheriff Robert Skorupa about Simpson’s death. Skorupa was at a loss for words when he learned Thursday that Simpson, the former Pondera County Sheriff and the man who hired him, drowned.

Skorupa had just talked to Simpson hours earlier. "I hadn't visited with him in quite some time and he was just on my mind,” Skorupa recalled. "He always had a certain way about him that just brought a lot of smiles out in people."

According to the Cascade County Sheriff's Office, Simpson drowned while fishing at Rainbow Dam.

Five days earlier, well-known Great Falls resident Cleve Loney drowned while boating on the Missouri River.

The Cascade County Sheriff's Office said that neither Simpson or Loney were wearing a life-jacket or personal-flotation device at the time.

"Number one, top of the list always, is to wear a life jacket,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Angler Education Coordinator Dave Hagengruber. "The key word there is to wear the life jacket. It doesn't do any good if it's not on your body when something happened."

FWP reminds people to think before they get on the water. "A big thing is to know your limitations to plan what you're going to do and where you're going to go. Things like not taking pool toys down a river. Make sure what you're going to be floating in or boating in is safe for where you're going to be,” said Hagengruber.

FWP also cautions people not to drink while piloting a boat - it is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.