Central Oregon

Friends, neighbors hit by loss of Terrebonne man

Fond reflections on life of Idaho drowning victim

Neighbors & friends remember Terrebonne man

TERREBONNE, Ore. - Byron Williams, 67, of Terrebonne, drowned Wednesday in western Idaho's Cascade Reservoir. Thursday evening, his friends and neighbors shared the memories they had of him.

Lt. Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff's Office told the Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/1hCTztt) that Williams fell into the 51-degree water while attempting to launch a boat during a windstorm.

Emergency responders found Williams in the water after about 30 minutes, but attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends and neighbors said Williams was a stand-up individual. Just 24 hours later, the news of his death was still shocking.

"I mean, Byron and I just finished up deciding what area to hunt elk in and apply for tags," Cole Gayheart said. "We'd just been talking about that."

News of the tragedy brought "disbelief, I mean shock," Gayheart said. "I couldn't believe it. I mean, Byron us an avid boater. He'd been fishing most of his life. I just couldn't believe it."

Gayheart met Williams 20 years ago, when they lived across the street from each other in the Portland suburb of Clackamas. He actually moved over to the High Desert after Williams decided to as well. 

"He's the kind of person that, if you ever had a problem or anything that came up, it just took one phone call and he'd be there to help," Gayheart said. "No questions asked, no problem. A very hard-working guy."

Gayheart broke the news to another close friend, Gregg Bartolomei, that Williams was gone. Bartolomei had been friends with Williams for close to a decade.

As a veteran, friends described Williams as patriotic. Bartolomei said he will always remember Byron for the person he was.

"I'll miss him, for sure," Bartolomei said. "I already do. I just hope he's in a better place."

Smith says Williams might have had a pre-existing medical condition.

Both Gayheart and Bartolomei said Williams had no medical conditions they were aware of. It was just one accident that led to his unfortunate death.

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