At approximately 4:30 pm on Tuesday, July 31, park dispatch received a call from a shuttle driver that a fall had occurred at Haystack Creek.
Park rangers found a boy had fallen approximately 100 feet below the road in Haystack Creek. He did not survive the fall.
The victim has been identified as 15-year-old Spencer Flerchinger of Kamiah, ID. He was visiting the park with his parents.
Initial witness reports indicate that the victim was exploring the culvert that runs beneath the road, slipped into the creek, and was carried through, falling approximately 100 feet below the roadway.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road was restricted to one lane travel for three hours on Tuesday evening near the incident, and temporarily closed for approximately 10 minutes to vehicles in both directions while rangers secured the scene of the accident and recovered the victim’s body from a ledge below the road via litter carryout.
No suspicious circumstances have been noted, and the investigation is ongoing.
This fatality follows a similar death in July of 2017 at Haystack Creek when a person fell into the creek above the culvert while taking a photograph. While falls into water features are a common cause of injury and death, the recent occurrence of another fatality at the same location is not commonplace.
Visitors are urged to use extreme caution while recreating in the park. Unpredictable wildlife, extreme natural features, and other hazards exist in nearly all locations, including areas that may seem relatively safe. Glacier has 42 named waterfalls in addition to unnamed creeks and falls, and tens of miles of roadway that border steep cliffs. Falls in and near water features are a leading cause of death and visitors should avoid areas with slippery rocks that might result in a significant fall.
“It’s often the case that people hear about a tragic incident like this and think that it couldn’t happen to them,” said Glacier National Park Chief Ranger Paul Austin. “The facts are that many people explore the park each day in ways that could result in a serious accident. Take a few minutes before your trip to public lands to identify significant hazards. Prepare for the possibility of getting lost on a trail or an unexpected animal encounter. Stay away from rushing creeks and sheer drops.”
Glacier National Park staff extend their deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.