The body of 21-year-old Louisiana State University Eunice basketball player Everette Jackson was recovered by a search and rescue volunteer Sunday afternoon after a week-long search, according to the Gem County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Donnie Wunder claimed the search for Jackson’s body was difficult due to high water flow and dangerous conditions on the Payette River, which is where the college student was found. He was discovered two miles downstream from the Washington Street Bridge.
“The best time to float or raft is when it’s about 1200 CFS [cubic feet per second], and the night that he went into the water, the river was flowing a little over 10,000 CFS,” Wunder said. “Then Sunday, we got all the rain, and Monday, the water went clear up to 13,200 CFS.”
According to KTVB, Jackson went tubing on June 11, Saturday, with a group of friends. Among the group of friends was his girlfriend, Graci Kolka, who was the last person with Jackson during his death. According to the Atlanta Black Star, a heavy current separated Jackson from his girlfriend and led him to his death. Kolka said that they missed their exit along the tubing route, and she was able to cling to a branch for safety, but not Jackson.
The sheriff said that the search went from 8 a.m. to dusk each day. Among the search crew were volunteers, deputies, emergency personnel, and Everette’s family members. Officials said that two helicopters and three boats were assisting with the search.
The family hired additional help like the Cajun Navy to assist in searching for their deceased family member because they were determined to bring him home. After his body was found, the family requested an autopsy, but the sheriff denied telling them it wasn’t necessary.”
The family also claimed they were told not to come to help with the search, which was probably because of the river condition.
The news of the basketball player’s disappearance and death stirred up a bit of chaos on social media from strangers and Jackson’s family and friends. Most of it was about how his disappearance needed a lot of news coverage, similar to the news coverage murdered YouTuber Gabby Petito received. But other social media posts from strangers, family, and friends talked about the inconsistencies in the story of how the incident happened. The family of the college basketball player was very vocal on social media about how things happened, from days before Jackson’s death to after.
The American Whitewater, a nonprofit river conservation organization, kept a record of what had been reported.
According to the organization, Jackson flew from Louisiana to Idaho to visit his girlfriend, Graci, who is from Idaho, on Thursday, June 9, around 7:30 p.m. The two arrived at a Mormon wedding, in which Jackson was denied entry because the wedding was only open to Mormons.
The incident occurred on June 11. Graci told Jackson’s mother, Melanie, that they were in Boise, Idaho. Melanie was confused when she discovered her son was in Emmett, Idaho, 20 miles from Boise. Graci also told the family that 15 people were tubing with them, yet witnesses implied they only saw Jackson and his girlfriend.
That evening, Melanie tried to contact Graci and her son, but Graci didn’t respond. Monette, Jackson’s sister, got a hold of the girlfriend and asked for details regarding the incident. Graci gave the family three different accounts of the incident.
The first account is that she grabbed a tree branch and offered Jackson her hand. However, she said he slipped away. The second account was that the two emerged from the water, but he stumbled and lost one of his black Croc sandals, dropped his phone into the river by accident while trying to get his shoe, and then fell into the river while trying to get his phone. The third account is that they both were standing on the dock before his sandal and phone fell into the water, where he died trying to retrieve them.
On Wednesday, a vigil was held for Louisiana-born Everette Jackon at Ebenezer Christian Community Fellowship.
The Louisiana native Everette Jackson’s sister Meagan created a GoFundMe to assist with funeral expenses. So far, there are no details about when the funeral will be held.