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Former commissioner Harry Owens dies in crash into Clearwater

Funeral service on Saturday, May 20

Harry Owens, pictured at the 2016 GHS veterans assembly.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Harry Owens, pictured at the 2016 GHS veterans assembly.

— Funeral services are later this week for Harry E. Owens who died last week in a vehicle crash into the Clearwater River.

Owens, 89, of Grangeville, was a former Idaho County Commissioner who served five terms (1987-2002) on the board.

Blackmer Funeral Home will hold a viewing on Friday, May 19, and a service is set Saturday, May 20, at Grangeville Christian Church.

Owens obituary

Read Harry Owens obituary here:

The crash occurred last Thursday, May 11, one mile south of Stites (milepost 21.1) on State Highway 13, according to Idaho State Police. Idaho County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a 7:06 p.m. call from Selena Byington, who reported the accident and that the car went into the river, and her son was attempting to locate it.

From the ISP investigation, Owens was driving a 2002 Buick Century northbound when he failed to negotiate a left-hand curve. The Buick went off the right shoulder and Owens lost control, overcorrected, and the vehicle went back onto the roadway and crossed the center line and off the left shoulder of the highway. The vehicle went down an embankment and into the South Fork of the Clearwater River.

According to ISP, Owens was wearing a seat belt during the crash, but he took this off and exited the vehicle, after which he was swept downriver. Owens’ body was located a short distance from the crash scene that same evening.

“It’s sad about his passing, a shocker,” said Idaho County Commission chair Skip Brandt, who noted Owens serving the county as commissioner for 16 years.

According to Brandt, Owens was on his way to the Kooskia Masonic Lodge where members were to hold an 89th birthday celebration for him. When he wasn’t showing up, Brandt received a call from Owens’ son that they had found his car in the river.

Owens moved to Grangeville in 1943 where he worked for the post office for nearly 35 years. He retired a major from the Army National Guard having served 33 years, of which four were active with the Air Force. He was a helicopter pilot, having worked primarily for the Forest Service, and was a charter member of the Civil Air Patrol composite squadron in Grangeville.

ISP was assisted on scene by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and Kooskia ambulance and fire department crews, Miles Towing provided wrecker services.


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