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Malta youth drowns in Bear Paw Lake


A Malta teenager drowned while swimming with friends at Bear Paw Lake in Beaver Creek Park Friday afternoon.

Kyle Lee Tuma, 17, was on a camping and fishing trip at the lake 18 miles south of Havre when the fatal accident occurred, authorities said.

The Hill County Sheriff's Office received a call to respond to Bear Paw Lake at 4:42 p.m. Friday, according to Sheriff and coroner Greg Szudera. Hill County rescue officials were already on the scene when deputies arrived, Szudera said.

"Two deputies responded, and when they got to the location they were loading him into the ambulance," Szudera said.

The death has been ruled an "accidental drowning," said Szudera, who is unsure how the boy went under.

Tuma and four friends had arrived at the lake shortly before the accident. An adult was on the trip with them, and was setting up camp as the boys went for a swim.

"A couple of them were swimming towards the middle, and the man who was in charge called them back," Szudera said.

Tuma was yelling for help, he added.

Two of the other boys and the adult swam to help Tuma, who had gone underwater, Szudera said. The boys eventually pulled him from the water, without the assistance of a boat. Two Havre residents with a raft also tried to save Tuma, Szudera said.

The Havre residents performed CPR until rescue personnel arrived, Szudera said.

Szudera said today that the accident could have happened because of the cold temperature of the water combined with the hot temperature outside, causing a cramping effect.

"That's a possibility," the sheriff said. "It's hard to say what caused it."

The lake, often referred to as second lake, is about two miles north of Camp Kiwanis. It's located on the left side after entering the park from the north.

Szudera couldn't pinpoint how many drownings, if any, had taken place at the lake in the past.


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