Body of missing AHS grad found in Payette River

Published 12:59 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

By Katy Moeller, The Idaho Statesman

BOISE COUNTY, Idaho — The body of a 43-year-old Austin man who went missing near the Payette River May 2 was recovered earlier this month, according to the Boise County Coroner’s Office.

The identity of Dean Eric Christianson was confirmed through dental records, according to Boise County Chief Deputy Coroner Michael Johnson. His next of kin has been notified.

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Investigators found no indications that Christianson died from anything other than drowning, Johnson said. His body was found in the river about 3 miles downstream from where he was last seen along the Payette River on Banks-Lowman Highway.

Christianson had flown out to Cascade, Idaho, on April 23 to help Jason Koehler drive home to Austin, according to Jason’s mother, June Koehler.

Christianson and Koehler had finished a hike on Friday when Christianson went down to the river to fill up a water bottle.

When Jason checked on Christianson, he couldn’t see him anywhere, which led Jason to suspect Christianson had fallen in the river.

After a quick search, Jason flagged down authorities who immediately organized a search party, according to June.

June said Christianson was a lifelong area resident who graduated from Austin High School and lived northwest of town in rural Austin.

“He had lots of strong connections,” she previously told the Herald.

Previously, Boise County Chief Deputy Dale Rogers said Christianson had been living in Cascade but was in the process of moving to Missouri.

—Distributed by MCT Information Services. Herald Reporter Trey Mewes Contributed to this report.