Body of Everette Jackson, LSUE Basketball Player Lost In Tubing Accident with Girlfriend on the Payette River, Found by Volunteer

The body of a Louisiana State University Eunice student-athlete, who went missing after being swept away on the Payette River, was found in Idaho. Over the weekend, the man’s family identified his corpse, thus ending the search and recovery that started hours after a heavy current separated him from his girlfriend during a tragic tubing accident.

On Sunday, June 19, a volunteer located the remains of Everette Jackson, a Black 21-year-old man from Raceland, Louisiana, approximately two miles downstream from the Washington Street Bridge, the spot where he was last seen by his girlfriend and witnesses of the unfortunate river accident on Saturday, June 11, a press release from the Gems County Police Department reports. 

The search for his body was organized hours after his disappearance over a week ago, spanning from the Gem County Sports Complex to New Plymouth and including medical professionals, various law enforcement and emergency response agencies, volunteers and Jackson’s family.

Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this very difficult time. We are grateful to all of the emergency responders and volunteers who made this recovery possible.” 

Teams were challenged by the same dangerously high and swift-moving water that consumed Jackson’s body, impeding the search several times for the college basketball player.

The sheriff stated, “The best time to float or raft is when it’s about 1200 cfs [cubic feet per second], and the night that he went into the water, the river was flowing a little over 10,000 cfs. Then Sunday, we got all the rain, and Monday the water went clear up to 13,200 cfs.”

Local reports noted the river was experiencing extraordinary water level surges because of recent heavy rains. In four days, from the Thursday before his accident until the day he went missing, the water rose an estimated two feet, causing the river to crest to eight feet deep and race downstream 10,200 cubic feet per second. 

Federal records, dating back 96 years, stated the speed of the river was almost four times faster than the average speed for this time of year. Complicating the search for Jackson more was the temperature of the water, which dropped to around 55 degrees, and hypothermia levels. A week ago, officials noted his survival chances were slim.

The school announced the death of this scholar-athlete on social media, with the heartfelt caption reading, “It is with great sadness that we have learned that the body of Everette Jackson has been found. We will share funeral arrangements after he returns home, and they are made available. Please keep Everette’s family and loved ones in your prayers in the coming days and weeks.”

Jackson went tubing on the river with his girlfriend Gracie Kolka and several other associates. Both Jackson and his girlfriend missed their exit along the tubing route leading to the dock. Kolka was able to grab onto a branch and get to safety, but Jackson was not. As a result, he reportedly was pulled away in the current to his death.

Relatives of the deceased traveled to Idaho to participate in the rescue mission and vowed to not stop until he was found. His family hired additional support to help locate their loved one, including securing a helicopter to assist in the search. Groups such as the Cajun Navy volunteered for the effort.

Jackson’s sister Megan Jackson noted, during the search, her brother was “fun” and “adventurous.” 

She continued, “He loves to play basketball, loved basketball. He loved his family. He was very family-oriented. He just gets along with everybody.” 

Funeral arrangements for the young man have not been announced.

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