Tragedy on Flathead River as Dr. Allen drowns in boating accident

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For the Hungry Horse News

A well-known Columbia Falls dentist drowned in the Flathead River early Tuesday afternoon during a boating accident.

According to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry, Dr. Michael Allen, 79, was fishing with a friend in an aluminum boat near the Pressentine Bar fishing access when the boat capsized, sending both men into the cold water. A Two Bear Air helicopter found both men about two-thirds of a mile above the access.

Allen, who was wearing chest waders, was removed from the water by a Two Bear Air paramedic. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

“The water is pretty cold right now, wearing boots like that and falling into the water is a pretty bad scenario,” Curry said.

Allen’s fishing companion made it to shore, but was suffering from hypothermia and was treated at the scene by Columbia Falls Ambulance.

Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, A.L.E.R.T., Flathead Search & Rescue and Evergreen Fire also responded to the scene. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Curry said.

In addition to his practice, Allen was well-known in the sports community. His daughters, Brooke and Robin, led the Columbia Falls basketball team to its first-ever state championship in 1983.

A memorial service for Allen will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Columbia Falls.

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